India protests ‘unfair’ anti-Covid measures against its athletes

The Indian Olympic Committee has described as “unfair” the specific measures imposed by the Japanese authorities on athletes from the countries most affected by variants of Covid-19, expected at next month’s Tokyo Olympics.

To minimize the risk of contamination, organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Games on Monday announced additional measures aimed at athletes from countries, including India, that have been suffering from “significant impact from variants” of the coronavirus.

The protocols provide for the daily screening of athletes during the week before their departure for Japan, with an obligation for them “to have no contact with other teams during the first three days of their arrival” in the archipelago.

The Indian Olympic Committee (IOA) argues that these rules are unfavorable to Indian athletes who will lose three crucial days of training.

“Athletes are only allowed to arrive at the Games Village five days before their events,” protested IOA President Narinder Batra and Secretary Rajeev Mehta in a joint statement.

“Three days are wasted when the athletes have to put themselves in the conditions to get to the top,” they also argued, “To be discriminated against in this way five days before the Olympics is very unfair to the Indian athletes, who have worked hard for five years”.

Japan’s Olympic authorities have indicated that athletes from 11 countries, including Pakistan and the United Kingdom, have been affected.

“For participants from regions that, like India, have suffered the significant impact of variants, it is necessary to impose stricter rules (…) in line with the control measures in place at the borders,” they said in a press release to AFP.

However, they did not specify whether athletes from countries affected by these restrictions will still be allowed to train in the three days following their arrival at the Games, which begin on July 23.

Some Indian athletes, including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and wrestler Vinesh Phogat, train abroad, traveling to Tokyo from their respective venues. However, most of the Olympic team members will be traveling to Tokyo directly from India.

In its entire Olympic history, India has only won two medals at the Rio 2016 Games.

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