Updated: July 23, 2021 7:44:52 pm
In an unprecedented move, the Athletics Federation of India on Friday has warned athletes who do not perform well in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will have to face the music on their return.
Athletics events will be held at the National Stadium in Tokyo from July 30 to August 8.
Reports said long jumper M Sreeshankar who underwent a fitness test on July 21 and 20km race walker KT Irfan who did it on July 9 were reportedly performed below the satisfactory level before the AFI observers including Anju Bobby George at the tests held at SAI Centre, Bengaluru.
In a virtual emergency meeting on Friday morning, the AFI’s selection committee arrived at an “unanimous decision” to not pull the two athletes out of the 26-member squad.
The committee insisted that it was to test the fitness levels of both athletes and not trials to assess their form, according to the AFI release. Adille Sumariwalla, AFI chief, reportedly has spoken to the coaches and shared the views of the selection committee.
“The coaches have promised that their respective athletes will give their best in Tokyo. Sreeshankar’s father and coach have assured of good performance from his athlete. If athletes do not perform well in the Olympics, we will take action against them,” he said in a strong message meant for all Tokyo-bound athletes and coaches.
The selection committee also recommended that there be a national championship ahead of all major events and that athletes need to participate in such meets, Sumariwalla added.
The decision to test Sreeshankar was decided after the Kerala athlete pulled out of the National Inter-State Championships held in Patiala in the last week of June. Sreeshankar’s father and travelling coach S Murali has promised that his ward will “perform well”.
Irfan was the first athlete to qualify for the Olympics during the 2019 Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan. During the Ranchi National Race Walking Championships in March, he failed to complete the race as he was recovering from Coronavirus which infected him in May.
The first batch of the 18-member athletes, including Sreeshankar, left Delhi for Tokyo on Friday evening. Dutee Chand (women’s 100m and 200m), Tajinder Pal Singh Toor (men’s shot put), Kamalpreet Kaur (women’s discus throw), Avinash Sable (men’s 3000m steeplechase), the men’s 4x400m relay and mixed 4×400 relay team members were among the 18 athletes who boarded the flight.
Irfan and five race walkers will leave for Sapporo on July 30. The venue is at least 1,000km away from Tokyo.
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