The sports ministry is expecting a decision on Covid-19 vaccination for Olympic Games-bound athletes shortly from the health ministry, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Saturday.
“It’s a sensitive issue, and we are in the process of working out a plan. The health of the elite athletes training in the national camp for Olympics is our priority, but we have to follow the protocol of the health department,” said Rijiju.
The sports minister, who was the chief guest at an event at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on the eve of the National Marathon, said health workers and frontline staff are the main focus of the government. “But at the same time we don’t want any Olympic-bound athlete to get this contagious virus and spoil his or her preparation,” he said.
There has been uncertainty over the two doses of the vaccine for the athletes preparing for the Tokyo Olympics.
Earlier in February, Rajiv Mehta, secretary-general of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), had written to the health ministry considering the need for Covid-19 vaccines for top athletes.
“All the coaching staff and athletes who have achieved Olympic qualification might be a small number, but it all depends on the health ministry to give its nod,” said the sports minister.
In the 2019 Olympic qualification round, the Indian men’s and women’s hockey team along with nine boxers and four wrestlers made it to the Tokyo Olympics. Fifteen shooters and seven individual track and field athletes too have made the cut for the Olympics.
The sports minister hoped more athletes would qualify for the Olympics, starting on July 23. Due to the pandemic, several Olympic qualification events like the gymnastics World Cup have either been canceled or postponed.