Help sought for vaccination of 7 athletes based overseas


Seven Indian sportspersons, including javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who are training abroad are awaiting COVID-19 vaccination ahead of this month’s Tokyo Olympics.

These athletes are in camps in various countries and their vaccination has not been possible because of different regulations there. They have to get vaccinated before the Tokyo Olympics begin on July 23.

The Sports Ministry has, therefore, sought the assistance of Ministry of External Affairs to complete the vaccination of seven athletes and 17 support staff based overseas.

The sportspersons facing problems with vaccination include javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who is based in Uppasala in Sweden, boxers Manish Kaushik, Satish Kumar, Pooja Rani and Simranjeet Kaur who are in Assisi, Italy, and wrestlers Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia, who are in Russia.

In Sweden, Covishield (AstraZeneca) is available only for those above the age of 65. Italy’s vaccination policy makes it difficult for the Indian boxers to receive their second shots of Covishield there while Russia has only Sputnik vaccine. It is likely that the Indians athletes and the support staff will get their second doses in the Indian missions in those countries, the Sports Ministry said in a release on Monday.

The four boxers and 11 coaching and support staff, who need the vaccine, were originally slated to return to India from their base in Italy on July 8. The Boxing Federation of India wrote to Government to let the boxers continue training in Italy till they leave for Tokyo. It thus became important for MEA’s assistance to ensure that the 15 members are fully vaccinated, the ministry added.

Though the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee has not made it mandatory for athletes and officials to be vaccinated, India decided to vaccinate its athletes, coaches and support staff on a priority basis to ensure their safety.

Besides, some other athletes are due to get their respective second doses soon. Shooters Rahi Sarnobat, Saurabh Chaudhary and Deepak Kumar will receive their vaccination in Zagreb, Croatia.

Tennis player Ankita Raina will get her second dose in the High Commission of India in London while judoka Shushila Devi will complete her vaccination here, the ministry informed.