Kiren Rijiju: India will vaccinate Olympic-bound athletes before Tokyo 2020

The Indian sports minister assured that all athletes will be vaccinated before going to the Tokyo Games

By Samrat Chakraborty

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have published the first of their 'playbooks', defining the conditions for the 11,000-odd athletes and thousands of others that are set to head towards Tokyo in July for the mega event.

On the same day, the Indian government assured that the entire Indian contingent will be vaccinated before they take the flight for the games.

The IOC had already initiated talks with all participating nations so that the athletes, support staff and officials can have emergency access to Covid-19 vaccine. Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, on Wednesday, announced that although the overall priority list will be charted by the health ministry, the sports department will ensure that Olympic-bound athletes get priority when the turn comes.

"The government’s policy is very clear. First of all, the vaccine will be provided to warriors… the medical and security people. Our Olympic-bound athletes and their trainers will be provided priority in our ministry but overall priority is set by Ministry of Health,” Rijiju said on the sidelines of a Fit India event.

Sports secretary Ravi Mittal, took a cue from the minister and added, "They will all be vaccinated before they go for the Olympics, whoever goes. We will also take into account the time between two doses and everything else."

The IOC in its set of guidelines has mentioned that it is not mandatory for athletes to be vaccinated before the games. But, even the participants who have received it must follow Covid protocols like social distancing, masks and frequent Covid-19 testing.

Rijiju, once again stressed that there won't be any shortage of funds for athletes preparing for Tokyo. In the Union budget, the sports ministry has been allocated INR 2596.14 crores to conduct its multifarious events in the upcoming financial year.

“Sports ministry is not facing any financial crunch. Whatever is needed is provided. There is no crisis. Some people had written that in Olympic year, the government has cut the budget of the sports ministry. That is not the case…if required we will revise and ask for more," stated the minister.