'Olympics is once in four years, and athletes have only one shot at glory, and it's important to have a holistic approach, use science, use medicine, use technology and engineering in training and that will make a difference'
Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra is confident of sending a record contingent of 125 athletes to next year's Tokyo Olympics.
On the occasion of International Olympic Day celebrations, the IOA boss was joined by sporting legends such as Leander Paes, Abhinav Bindra and Anju Bobby George during a webinar, which focussed on sport in the post COVID-19 world.
"The next one year is going to be critical and the focus will be on elite athletes. While we have 78 athletes who have already qualified, I am confident the numbers will go up to about 125 athletes once international competitions and qualifying meets resume around the globe," Batra said.
"The preparations will be a joint effort by the Government of India, IOA, NSFs (National Sports Federations) and I feel this is a situation where the best needs to be taken out of the worst."
India sent a 117-member contingent at the 2016 Rio Games and 83 competitors to London in 2012.
The pandemic had brought the sporting world to a standstill in March, forcing, among others, postponement of the Olympics by a year.
The objective now is to resume sporting activities in a phased manner even though the situation in the country is far from normal.
Batra added, "Few sports like hockey, weightlifting and athletics have already started and shooting too will begin sometime in mid-July. I am in touch with all the NSFs, as well as some athletes and I am optimistic we are on track for Tokyo Olympics in 2021."
Olympic champion Bindra insisted that a holistic approach is what will make the difference.
"Olympics is once in four years, and athletes have only one shot at glory, and it's important to have a holistic approach, use science, use medicine, use technology and engineering in training and that will make a difference," Bindra said.
Underlining the importance of tapping talent in the rural belt, Olympic bronze medallist and multiple Grand Slam winner Paes said, "Most of India's talent is untouched, and it is great that Odisha has set an example of creating excellence at grass root level. This is very important.
"More global events are coming to Odisha and while the state has done fabulously in hosting the Men's World Cup in 2018 among other events, the programs rolled out to develop grass root sports in association with corporates is commendable."
IOC joins hands with WHO, UN to promote physical, mental health amid COVID-19 pandemic
On the occasion of Olympic Day, the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday joined hands with the United Nations and the World Health Organization to promote physical and mental health amid the coronavirus pandemic.
IOC said that Olympic athletes will deliver important public health information in the coming weeks, inspiring people to adopt or continue behaviours that will curtail the pandemic and provide resources that promote physical and mental health.
"Using the theme 'Healthy Together', partners and athletes will spotlight the collective effort and global collaboration needed to reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19," IOC said in a statement.
IOC President Thomas Bach said Olympic athletes will share the information and best practice that the world needs in the times of coronavirus pandemic.
"Sport can save lives. We have seen over the last few months just how important sport and physical activity are for health and well-being. And working together with WHO and the United Nations we can take another step together. Olympic athletes will share the information and best practice that the world needs now," Bach said in a statement.
IOC said that the world is looking for global institutions to work together and for leaders to deliver reliable, credible information from sources they trust and the Olympic athletes can be the trusted messengers for this information.
Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization, commented: "We are pleased to partner with the International Olympic Committee to spread important health messages that will save lives. Olympians will help us advocate for healthier populations to ensure that people are as resilient as our health systems must be to fight COVID-19."
Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, added: "During this time of unprecedented challenges and change -- from the COVID-19 pandemic to the ongoing struggle for racial and social justice and the climate crisis -- there has never been a greater need for global solidarity and hope. The Olympic Movement and its athletes have always brought out the best in humanity, and the United Nations is pleased to work with the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization in calling on people everywhere to unite and be #HEALTHYTogether."
IOC said that the three organisations will work with local health authorities to share public health guidance and resources that inform and empower individuals to take appropriate actions and precautions. WHO will work with athletes to bring important information to populations where they live and where conditions may vary through digital platforms.