The participation of Indian athletes in the Olympic Games opening ceremony will be kept to a “naked minimum” in view of the COVID-19 threat, while only six officials from the contingent will be allowed to participate in the event on Friday. The athletes who have competitions lined up day after today will be discouraged from attending the event, the country’s deputy chef-de-mission Prem Kumar Verma told PTI on Wednesday. Indian Olympic Organization (IOA) secretary general Rajeev Mehta, who is in the city, said not many will be there keeping in brain the risk of infection.
“We can try to have a naked minimum group available in the market. Kam se kam athletes ko utara jaega. The chef-de-mission and the deputychef-de-mission will make a decision on the numbers the next day but our view is that the naked minimum must attend to make sure their safety in this an important period,” Mehta told PTI.
India is being represented by more than 120 athletes in the Games with the overall contingent size being 228, including officials, coaches, other enhance staff and alternate athletes in view of the COVID-19.
“Six officials (from each and every country) are allowed at the ceremony but there’s no cap on athletes. Alternatively, we have advised the athletes who have events day after today to skip the ceremony and concentrate on their game,” Verma said after a assembly of the chef-de-missions but did not specify which officials from India will be there at the event.
“The ceremony is likely to final till middle of the night so it is better that they rest for their events the next day to come,” he added.
The likes of 10m air pistol shooters Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Apurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan, who have events on the first competition day, will skip the ceremony together with Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Deepak Kumar and Divyansh Singh Panwar will be shooting on the second one day.
The Indian team has eight rifle, five pistol and two skeet shooters, but even so six coaches and a physiotherapist in Tokyo.
Before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, Indian shooters consistently dominated the sport, finishing on top of the table in four ISSF World Cups, in 2019. Chef-de-mission B P Baishya said that a call on the number of Indian athletes who will participate will be taken on Thursday.
Boxers, archers and the men’s and women’s hockey teams are also scheduled to compete the day after the opening ceremony. “Those who do not need fights on Saturday will participate in the ceremony,” a boxing contingent source told PTI.
India have named men’s hockey captain Manpreet Singh and six-time world champion woman boxers M C Mary Kom as the flag-bearers for the opening ceremony.
While Mary Kom isn’t scheduled to compete day after today, Manpreet will be leading the side out for the first Pool A game against New Zealand on Saturday.
“Those who are quarantining are also not allowed,” Verma said approximately the athletes and officials, who have recently landed in the Japanese city.
On Wednesday, media reports came in that Britain will have not more than 30 athletes taking part in the ceremony because of COVID-19 fears. Great Britain has 376 athletes in fray at the Games.
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