Highly Unfair: India Slam Rules for Olympics For COVID-Hit Nations

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The Indian Olympic Association has slammed the strict rules of the Japanese government for athletes from several Covid-hit nations for the Tokyo Games beginning 23 July.

Tokyo 2020 organisers said that additional measures will be used to reduce infection risks from several countries, including India, that have seen "significant impact from variants" of COVID-19.

The rules involve daily testing of athletes for a week before they depart for Japan and for them to "refrain from coming into contact with other teams for three days after they arrive" in Japan.

But the IOA cited that the rules would cause athletes to lose three crucial training days.

"Athletes are allowed to arrive in the Games village only five days before their event," IOA president Narinder Batra and secretary Rajeev Mehta said in a joint statement released on Saturday.

"Now three days will be wasted, this is the time the athletes need to be moving towards their mode to peak... highly unfair for Indian athletes, who have worked hard for five years, to be discriminated against just five days before the Olympics."

The sports administrators said 11 countries, including India, Pakistan and the UK, would be affected.

"Where and when will the athletes have their breakfast, lunch, dinner during these three days, as everyone has food in the Games village food hall where all athletes and officials of other NOCs (National Olympic Committees) are present all the time," the statement added.

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Where will the athletes train? it asked, because "practice/training areas are never empty and athletes and officials of other NOCs are present all the time."

The Tokyo 2020 organisers said in a statement to AFP that they had received a document from India's Olympic body.

"For participants from areas such as India that have seen significant impact from variants, it is necessary that they follow more stringent rules than those outlined in the (athletes) Playbook, and are similar to the existing border control measures," they added.

But the organisers did not clarify whether athletes from the affected countries would be allowed to train in the three days after their arrival.

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Mr Batra told AFP last week that Indian athletes will be fully vaccinated before the Games starting 23 July.

The IOC said in May that 6 countries -- Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- had pledged to fully vaccinated their delegations and conduct additional testing.

Some athletes, including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and wrestler Vinesh Phogat, are training abroad and will travel to Tokyo from their respective locations.

But most of the Olympic team will depart from India.

(With AFP Inputs)

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