By Baidurjo Bhose
New Delhi [India], June 21 (ANI): With athletes in the home stretch of their preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra has backed the contingent to make every Indian proud. He believes the Indian athletes are mentally strong and despite the various hurdles they are facing, including the new quarantine rules for the athletes once they reach Tokyo, the contingent will come out with flying colours.
Speaking to ANI, Batra threw light on the new quarantine rules, the idea behind getting the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on board, having fans in the stadiums and most importantly his personal assessment of the Indian contingent's preparations.
The Japanese government has put in new regulations which will not allow the Indian athletes to physically interact with anyone from another team, delegation or country for three days on arrival. Batra says the IOA is on the verge of getting a heart-attack every 10 minutes.
"We have written to the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (TOCOG) and called it unfair. The organising committee has said they are looking into it and will get back. It is highly unfair for the Indian athletes as they will be looking to peak and in their final stage of preparations and you ask them to sit quietly for three days. Yes, you said they will be allowed to train, but where? Nobody will leave it empty from start till the end of the day. The same is the situation when it comes to eating. Where do the athletes eat their food? The body requires proteins, calories, supplements etc, moreover, the intake needs to be measured as every athlete has his/her own plan. We also have vegetarians, so who will plan the diet?
"It does not give any clarity. What about those who have been training outside India and will come directly to Tokyo? There are quite a few things that need discussions. Like for team sports like hockey, three days before the event the equipments and all are checked. But now what happens? There are various official meetings for team sports as well as individual ones. What happens to those? Uniforms, equipments these things need to be cleared. Who will check these things? It is very complicated than becoming easier," he pointed.
"We have written to them on some additional points as well which have come to our notice. Like I said, the equipment check and things like these. The IOA will be coordinating all these things, so we are taking it up. I don't know if they will call or reply to the mail, but ask me honestly, they have created a situation where every 10 minutes we get a heart attack. So we don't know what to do and it has become a problematic situation."
He believes the politicians making calls has led to the current situation. "This happens when politicians come to take decisions on sporting matters without even understanding the complexities of the sports. That is my reading of the whole situation. These are not decisions taken by IOC or organising committee," he said.
"Athletes coming from India, I can say they are all in bio-bubbles and all being tested twice a week from June 1. They will also be tested for the last seven days and there also we have a problem. The agency they have appointed says they will take at least 30 hours to give report. How do we get the seventh-day report? Will they stop us at the airport in Tokyo?
"I won't have a report when I board the flight. It is an agency organised by organising committee, we can't go to anyone else. They have created so many confusions, but I am not giving up. We will ensure everyone gets through and participates," Batra said.
Asked about BCCI joining hands in the Olympic journey, Batra said: "Anything that comes up additionally is welcome and helpful. The idea is to create focus on the Olympics. I don't know how much focus people have due to COVID-19 as it is bothering everyone. This exercise is to get people involved and get the entire population behind the contingent and make sure they cheer on the Indian team. I think cricketers talking about Olympics on social media is also part of the understanding, how much that happens will be seen."
Batra also welcomed the decision to allow fans into the stadiums as it doesn't help having athletes performing in front of empty stands. "Empty stands no athlete wants. I heard they will be taking the decision on Monday, haven't been updated. If it has been taken, it is a welcome decision. The main stadium will have 10,000 crowd, some stadiums has lesser capacity. It is a good sign to have people cheering," he said.
Commenting on his hopes from the contingent as a fan of Indian sports, Batra said: "I am an Indian, whether I hold an international hockey position or if I am an IOC member and that will not change. Whichever position I hold, I hold it as an Indian. I am satisfied with the preparations and I will maintain that we will have medals in double digit. Even though there are unfair quarantine rules coming in and it might affect us in one or two places, but I don't think it should affect. Our athletes are mentally very strong and focussed. While these things do hamper you in the beginning, we are trying to work things out. India will still participate in the unfair conditions."
Batra also made it clear that the members of the contingent will strictly be athletes and their coaching staff. "Stand of IOA is clear that family members will not be accompanying athletes as we won't waste the cards. If someone's family member is a coach or a mental trainer and there is a history to it, not parachuted to that position overnight, then they can go. We clear or the NSFs clear those, so if there is a history of the travel, it will be allowed, else, sorry," he signed off. (ANI)