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India slams Tokyo Games’ “highly unfair” Olympic rules for covid affected countries

Owing to the threat posed by countries with the most covid cases, Japan listed a set of rules to be followed by the participants of these nations in Tokyo Games, much to the dislike of India. The Indian Olympic body slammed the Japanese government’s actions calling the strict norms “unfair”.  

Organizers of the international sports league to be started next month said on Monday about the extra measures, which are going to be implemented to ensure decreased risk of infection from many nations that present a greater chance of infecting other athletes. With India a part of the list, they included all countries that have witnessed “significant impact from variants” of Covid-19. 

From daily testing of athletes for a week before they leave for the host country to their isolation from other teams for 3 days post landing in Japan, Tokyo Games’ protocols irked India, which said this refrainment would cost athletes 3 crucial days of training.  

In a joint statement released by IOA president Narinder Batra and secretary Rajeev Mehta on Saturday, they said, “Athletes are allowed to arrive in the Games village only five days before their event.” 

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“Now three days will be wasted, this is the time the athletes need to be moving towards their mode to peak… highly unfair for Indian athletes, who have worked hard for five years, to be discriminated against just five days before the Olympics,” they added.  

As part of Japan’s protocols, 11 countries, India, Pakistan included, would be affected, the sports body said.  

“Where and when will the athletes have their breakfast, lunch, dinner during these three days, as everyone has food in the Games village food hall where all athletes and officials of other NOCs (National Olympic Committees) are present all the time,” the statement read. 

Questioning about the training area, IOA asked, “Where can athletes train?” because “practice/training areas are never empty and athletes and officials of other NOCs are present all the time.” 

The Indian Olympic body sent a document to the Tokyo Games’ organizers over the matter. Responding to the same, the latter said, “For participants from areas such as India that have seen significant impact from variants, it is necessary that they follow more stringent rules than those outlined in the (athletes) Playbook, and are similar to the existing border control measures.” 

However, no clarification was provided on permitting athletes of the affected countries for training in the 3 days post their arrival. 

Last week, the IOA President had said that Indian athletes will be fully vaccinated with both doses before the sports league begins on July 23rd 

The International Olympic Committee, reading a declaration given by 6 countries, had said in late May that India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal had pledged to fully vaccinate their delegations with additional testing for them.  

Some Indian athletes like wrestler Vinesh Phogat and javelin Neeraj Chopra, are currently training outside India and will be arriving in Tokyo directly from the country they are in.  

Nevertheless, the chunk of the Olympic team will fly from India to the host country.