July 12, 2021 3:27:05 pm
The National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) is trying to get approval for two more coaches to accompany the seven permitted to travel with the country’s Olympic shooting team to Tokyo, at the expense of office-bearers.
The federation is working with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) in this regard and there are chances that the number of support staff could go up.
The 13 Olympic-bound Indian shooters in pistol and rifle, seven coaches, five physiotherapists and a two-member video crew had left for Zagreb in a charter flight on May 11, for an 80-day training-cum-competition tour of the Balkan nation.
They were later joined by three more coaches — Pavel Smirnov, Samaresh Jung and Ronak Pandit.
“We are trying to send nine coaches, instead of seven, to Tokyo. The NRAI has already started processing and is working with IOA on this,” the federation’s secretary Rajiv Bhatia told PTI on Monday.
Considering the extraordinary circumstances arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bhatia said the “(NRAI) secretary general (D V Seetharama Rao) has said that he will not be going to the Olympics, and two places can be given to the coaches, instead.”
The Olympics are scheduled to be held in the Japanese capital from July 23 to August 8, with the shooting events starting a day after the opening ceremony and covering the first 10 days of the extravaganza, which will be held without spectators owing to the pandemic.
NRAI president Raninder Singh is likely to be the only top official from the national shooting federation present in the Olympics.
However, Singh will not be there in Tokyo as a representative of the NRAI but as the vice-president of the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF), a post he has been holding since November 2018.
Earlier, it was decided that foreign rifle coach Oleg Mikhailov and his pistol counterpart Pavel Smirnov are going to be the only instructors staying with Indian shooters for the entire duration of the Olympics, with the others serving the team in turns as per a ruling necessitated by the pandemic.
The coaching staff was likely to constitute only 30 per cent of the whole squad in the upcoming sporting extravaganza.
Currently in its final phase of preparation in Croatia, the Indian shooting contingent will leave Zagreb for Tokyo on July 16 and reach the host city the following day.
In Tokyo, the shooters and their support staff are likely to be in quarantine for three to four days as they are entering Japan from a country where the COVID-19 situation is under control.
The two skeet shooters — Angad Vir Singh Bajwa and Mairaj Ahmad Khan — who are currently based in Italy, will leave for Tokyo on the same day as the rifle and pistol shooters.
The Indian contingent had shifted base to Zagreb as it was considered safer for them to train there at a time when the country reeled under a devastating second wave of the pandemic.
During their stay in Croatia, the Indian shooters took part in the European Championships in Osijek, from May 29 to June 6, before participating in the last World Cup before the Olympics, from June 22 to July 3, at the same venue.
India will be represented by a record 15 shooters at the Tokyo Games.
The Indian contingent has eight rifle, five pistol and two skeet shooters, besides coaches and other support staff members.
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