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India likely to send 190-strong contingent to Olympics, says IOA president

PTI, Jun 4, 2021, 9:42 AM IST

New Delhi: The Indian contingent for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics is expected to be around 190, including over 100 athletes, IOA president Narinder Batra said on Thursday as Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju unveiled the official kits for the country’s participants.

So far, 100 athletes have qualified for the Tokyo Games, including 56 men and 44 women. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) expects another 25 to 35 to make the cut for the Games, which open on July 23.

Indian athletes from 12 sports – badminton, boxing, hockey, wrestling, sailing, athletics, archery, equestrian, fencing, rowing, shooting and table tennis – have so far qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Gymnast Pranati Nayak is set to qualify but yet to be confirmed by the world body of the sport.

Golf, Judo, Swimming and Gymnastics are four disciplines where multiple Indian athletes are expected to qualify.

”…we are estimating to touch 125 to 135 (qualified athletes) by the next two to three weeks when the qualification process is over,” Batra said during the online ceremony which also marked 50 days to the Games.

”This means the Indian contingent, including officials and support staff, is likely to be around 190,” he added.

The number of officials cannot be more than one-third of the athlete group as per the Sports Ministry rules. The ministry can, however, allow additional officials at no cost to the government.

Batra also reiterated that India’s medal haul can touch the double-digit mark in Tokyo, which will be an unprecedented achievement.

India’s best medal haul came in the 2012 London Olympics, where the country snared six medals, including two silver and four bronze.

The IOA chief said that all the athletes who have qualified for the Olympics have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine except for a few who have recently contracted the virus.

He requested Rijiju to ensure that all the Indian athletes are fully vaccinated before they head to Tokyo.

”The IOC will issue a Playbook (latest version) this month but there will be only minor changes (from an earlier version). We have to follow all the health and safety protocols in view of the pandemic.” Unveiling the official kits of the Indian contingent, Rijiju said the whole country is behind the athletes.

”Olympics is the platform where the best in the world will compete. I hope our athletes will make their best effort and make the country proud by winning medals,” he said.

”Today, the Prime Minister took a review of the country’s preparation for the Olympics and assured the participating athletes that the entire country is behind them,” he added.

He said his ministry has provided all kinds of support — financial and logistical – to the athletes amid the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

”I am happy to say that our athletes are well prepared for the biggest sporting event. We are just 50 days away from the Tokyo Games. Now every day, every second counts. The launch of the official kit of the Indian Olympic team is an important aspect,” Rijiju said.

”We could have organised a big event to mark the occasion but for this pandemic,” the minister lamented.

The official kits are sponsored by Li Ning – IOA’s sports apparel partner – while the official ceremonial kits are sponsored by styling partner Raymonds.

”Li Ning designed the official sports kit, inspired by India’s national colours and integrated unique graphics to emote the energy and pride of the Indian Olympic Team,” the IOA said in a release.

IOA Secretary General Rajiv Mehta said that four sets of official kits will be given to each athlete and more than 100 kits have been kept aside as a contingency.

”We have received the health protocols the athletes have to follow. There will be double testing of athletes before departure. All these things, we will work out with the chef-de-mission and his deputy,” Mehta said. ”We are sending one of the best Indian teams to date which comprises many young and experienced talent. All the athletes are training hard and are motivated for the Olympics.”

Six Olympic-bound athletes – Neeraj Chopra, Bajrang Punia, Deepak Punia, Ravi Dahiya, Sumit Malik and Seema Bisla – were present.

Chef de Mission of the Indian contingent BP Baishya, his deputy Prem Chand Verma, Sports Secretary Ravi Mital and Sports Authority of India Director General Sandip Pradhan were also present.

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