With Japan restricting entry of people from India, Pakistan and Nepal due to the rise in COVID-19 cases, questions have been raised on whether the Indian athletes will also face issues in entering the country for the Tokyo Olympics. But Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra has made it clear that all protocols will be met and there will be no restriction to the entry of Indian athletes in the country for the Games. Speaking to ANI, Batra said he was aware of the rising doubts among athletes after the new restriction in Japan. But he went on to clear them and said there was nothing to worry as far as India's Olympic contingent is concerned.
"We have to understand that Olympics is different from regular people entering the country from India, Pakistan or Nepal. Olympics has guarantees from the hosts and from the International Olympic Committee that you cannot stop any athlete from any country from coming and participating. All the accredited athletes in the contingent and officials -- around 210 people in total -- will not come under the restriction. That is the way I understand the protocol.
"Yes, we will also follow all the protocols that have been put in place. Athletes and para athletes have been vaccinated. And about 90-odd officials have also been vaccinated out of which some have also got the second shot. We have met the vaccination protocol, 24 hours before the departure we will also do the RTPCR tests. So, in my view, there is no reason for them to stop us as we are not violating any regulation. Every single athlete and official who has been accredited will be there," he pointed.
There have also been recent cases where qualification tournaments were cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation. While the IOA chief does feel for the athletes, he says these things need to be looked into by the federations.
"The situation over the last one year is beyond anybody's control. Nobody knows when a place will get affected by the COVID-19 situation. These are all political decisions and not sporting ones. If a country has taken a decision that I will not allow, you cannot do much. The example of Australia is right in front of your eyes. Thailand and Malaysia also said the same and you cannot do much about it.
"In case of Olympics, it is clear that if qualification isn't there, world rankings will then be considered. I know it is unfortunate but you cannot do much to change the situation at this point in time. I feel for the athletes who could not go but certain things are even beyond everyone's control," he said.
Batra wants the Indian athletes to focus on the road ahead with the Tokyo Games just over two months away.
"Athletes won't be stopped and that is an assurance. They shouldn't have any worry," he signed off.