Updated: February 4, 2021 1:12:54 pm
On a day when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) published a ‘playbook’, outlining the conditions for the 11,000-odd athletes and thousands of others, the government said all Indian athletes who will compete at the Tokyo Games will be vaccinated before leaving the country.
In January, the IOC initiated talks with all participating countries regarding emergency access to Covid-19 vaccines for the Tokyo-bound athletes, support staff and officials. Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, on Wednesday, said while the overall priority list will be set by the health ministry, the sports department will prioritise athletes and trainers when their 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 added that athletes will receive the vaccination before the Games. “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,” Mital said.
The IOC, in its playbook for international sports federations and technical officials published on Wednesday, said it will not be mandatory for the participants to be vaccinated before the Games. They added that measures like social distancing, masks and frequent Covid-19 testing will be applicable to even those who have received Covid-19 shots.
Meanwhile, Rijiju also said there won’t be any shortfall of funds to prepare for the Olympics. In its budget, the government reduced the allocation for sports by Rs 230.78 crore compared to the previous year. The sports ministry received Rs 2,596.14 crore to conduct its activities in the upcoming financial year.
Mital said there was a 19.13 per cent increase in budget compared to 2019-20. “We should compare this year’s budget to 2019 since this is a Covid year,” he said. Rijiju added: “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.”
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