New Delhi [India], August 12 (ANI): Sports Minister Anurag Thakur boosted the morale of India's para-athletes on Thursday as he virtually attended a send-off ceremony organised for the Tokyo-bound athletes by the Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
The event was attended by G. Kishan Reddy, Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs, Member of Parliament Krishan Kapoor along with Gursharan Singh, Secretary-General of PCI and Deepa Maik, President PCI and other office bearers of the Paralympic Committee of India.
"I have full confidence that para-athletes will perform well in the Tokyo Games. The country has high hopes from you and I know you will keep the flag high with your performances," said Anurag Thakur.
"It's tough for the para-athletes, situations are tougher for them but your passion helps you win the events. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will talk with you and will meet the athletes after the Paralympics. PM Modi has always boosted the morale of the athletes. You go and perform without any pressure and win medals," he added.
The Tokyo-bound players were also part of the event virtually as they are in a strict bio-bubble. They got the opportunity to interact with the ministers during the send-off function and could feel the enthusiasm.
Deepa Malik, the President of PCI, who had won a silver medal at the Rio 2016 Games, said: "The games will not be the same again after the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. We are going to see a record haul of medals as our athletes are in prime form."
This time a record number of 54 para-athletes in 9 different divisions are participating in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
Gursharan Singh, Secretary-General of PCI, said: "This is the first time that Para Games will be shown live on two sports channels and we are happy to have EUROSports and DD Sports on board. People of the country can see live action of our para-athletes and celebrate and enjoy their medal-winning performance."
G Kishan Reddy spoke about the importance of sports in the plan of the Modi Government and said: "We have tried to not leave any stone unturned in the preparation of our athletes and we are expecting the most successful Para Games of the country."
Meenakshi Lekhi, Hon'ble Minister of State for External Affairs, said "We are approaching 75th year of our independence, our para-athletes are our real power. We are giving you a warm send-off and but this is not done, we will be ready to welcome."
Thangavelu Mariyappan, Rio 2016 Gold Medal winner, will be the flag bearer together with Gursharan Singh as Chef de Mission of the Indian team. Badminton will make its debut at the Paralympic Games, which will feature as many as seven Indian shuttlers.
The Tokyo Paralympic Games is scheduled to be held between August 24 and September 5. India will start its campaign on August 27 with men's and women's archery events. (ANI)