Leading Indian rowers and men archers get first Covid-19 shot

India’s leading rowers and archers preparing for this year’s Olympic Games at the Army’s training centre in Pune have got the first doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a coach familiar with the development said on Sunday.

“The first dose of the vaccine has been given. The second dose will be administered next week. The rowers have got vaccines not because they are top athletes but because they are employed with the Indian Army,” chief national coach Ismail Baig told IANS from Pune.

The Union health is mum on the issue of providing Covid-19 vaccines to those athletes who have qualified for the Olympic Games, to be held in Tokyo in July-August, despite the Indian Olympic Association having written to it several times.

The men’s four-member rowing team is preparing for the World Rowing Asia Oceania Continental Olympic and Paralympic qualification regatta, to be held in May 5-7 in Tokyo.

Baig, who will accompany the national squad, has got his first dose of Covid-19 vaccine from Pune’s local civil hospital. “I got it because Ia¿m 54. I will get my second shot soon,” he said.

However, the four-member women’s team training in Bhopal for the Asian qualification tournament is yet to receive the vaccine. “We have no idea about the women’s team vaccination as they are training at a different venue,” said Baig.

The Olympic-bound archery team, including the women’s squad, training at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, has got the first dose of covid19 vaccine, said an official of the Archery Federation of India (AAI).

“All the archers in the camp were given their first dose of vaccine soon after the final selection trials were held in the second week of March. The second shot is expected to be given next week,” said the AAI official.

The men’s archery team has qualified for the Olympics while the women’s team is yet to make the cut. Deepika Kumari, however, has won individual Olympic quota place at the 2019 Asian Championships in Bangkok.

The core group of athletes training at various Sports Authority of India training centres across the country are yet to get vaccines as the sports ministry or the Indian Olympic Association of India haven’t got any direction from the health ministry.