Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 21
On a day when Great Britain has announced that it will only send 30 persons out of a total delegation of 376 for the opening ceremony, Indian officials want a full show of strength.
A message from an Indian Olympic Association (IOA) official on behalf of BP Baishya, the chef-de-mission of the Indian contingent, has added to the woes of some of the Indian athletes.
Baishya has requested maximum participation from the Indians during the opening ceremony. Many have pulled out fearing it would add to exhaustion (Tokyo is in the midst of a heat wave) and exposure to the coronavirus, which would force them to miss participation at the Games.
“Chef de mission has informed that all the athletes should participate in the march past of the opening ceremony to be held on 23rd July, 2021,” reads the message on the contingent’s WhatsApp group.
Baishya, who is the president of the Indian Weightlifting Federation (IWLF), was unavailable for comments.
However, IWLF secretary general Sahdev Yadav, who is also in Tokyo as a technical delegate of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), said Mirabai Chanu will not attend the ceremony.
“There is no chance that Mira will be a part of the ceremony as it will be a tiring experience. She will not go and it is final,” Yadav told The Tribune on Wednesday.
IOA secretary general Rajeev Mehta said the Indian presence at the opening ceremony will likely be small in number.
“I don’t know about the chef-de-mission message but I know that there are risks and so we have to take care of our athletes. My understanding is that we will send a small delegation,” Mehta confirmed. “We have an early morning meeting tomorrow and this matter will be settled there itself.”
Many shooters have also opted out of the ceremony, as they fear exhaustion. It is understood that some of the coaches have told the staff that the shooters will not be attending as some, including Saurabh Chaudhary and Abhishek Verma, are to shoot their qualification rounds the next morning. However, rifle coach Suma Shirur has said that some may be part of the march-past but it would be their own decision.
Judo, archery and hockey officials have refused Baishya’s request. The hockey team would be missing the march-past as well. However, men’s team captain Manpreet Singh will attend as a flagbearer alongside six-time boxing world champion MC Mary Kom.
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