‘No clarity’ on Covid vaccination for Olympic-bound Indians: IOA

Uncertainty looms over Covid-19 vaccination for the Olympic Games hopeful athletes, says Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary general Rajiv Mehta. Although there are five months to go for the Tokyo Olympics, there is no word on how the Japan-bound athletes would be vaccinated.

“As of now, there is no clarity when Olympic hopefuls will get vaccination for the contagious virus. Till date, archers, boxers, men and women’s hockey team, track and field athletes and wrestlers have achieved quota places for the rescheduled Olympic Games to be held from July 23 to August 8 in Japan,” Mehta said in a letter sent to the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and accessed by IANS.

To expedite the process of vaccination, Mehta has requested the health ministry to take stock of the situation and give two dosage of Covid-19 vaccination for the Olympic-bound athletes.

“Since the athletes and officials are training and staying at different locations, the IOA in coordination with the concerned National Sports Federations (NSFs) will have the vaccination done. We look forward for your kind consideration of our request and direct the concerned department to enable the athletes and officials to have the vaccination done in time, prior to their departure to Japan,” he has said in his two-page letter.

According to the IOA secretary general, discussions with the health ministry are going on, but it’s uncertain when the process of vaccination for athletes will commence.

“There are five months to go for the Tokyo Olympics, two-dosage of vaccination for athletes as well as for officials are required on priority. Therefore, we request your good offices to consider the vaccine for the Indian contingent, and may please arrange to issue necessary direction in this regard,” Mehta said in his letter.

Sports minister Kiren Rijju last week said: “Olympic bound athletes and officials are on the priority list, but it’s the health ministry to decide the overall details. All the athletes will be vaccinated before they go to the Olympics.”

Uncertainty also looms over the Olympics as many nations are still struggling with the surge of deadly Covid virus, besides there is opposition to the mega event from within Japan.

India’s vaccination drive was launched last month with focus on health care and frontline workers.