New Delhi: With the Tokyo Olympics round the corner, every sports fanatic is waiting with bated breath for India to announce the name of the flagbearer for the opening ceremony of the showpiece event. While Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Narinder Batra has said the announcement will be made at the end of the month, he has confirmed there will be two flag bearers.
Speaking to ANI, the IOA chief said that an official announcement of the names will be made by the end of the month after all the teams have been announced for the showpiece event.
"You will have to wait till the last week of this month for all the teams to be finally announced. Let the teams be announced and then we can name the flagbearers. Some teams have been announced, but some are still left as in archery we still have qualifications going on among others. When we get the final list, it will be announced.
"What I understand, with an eye on gender equality there will be one male and one female flagbearer. From now there will be two flagbearers. A little bit of clarity is awaited on the exact manner of the opening ceremony as this is a special situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are prepared for everything, the ceremony dresses, and all are provided to the athletes. There will be an opening ceremony, but if it is closed or open that decision will be made," he explained.
Asked if a date has been decided on when the contingent will leave from India, apart from those who are training or competing outside the country, Batra said: "It will be scattered because you can only be there five plus one day (six days) before your event. The athletes and officials will come in as per their events. So those who have their events at the beginning, they will be the opening contingent. You have to also leave two days after your event is over, so during closing also the same rules will have to be followed." Sports Authority of India (SAI) and IOA on Tuesday jointly decided to organise a nationwide campaign to create awareness about the Olympics with a focus on the participation of Indian athletes.
The IOA President had earlier said the upcoming Tokyo Games will be a level playing field for everyone involved and opined that there is no country that has a significant advantage heading into the Games.
"Athletes have been preparing well, they are as fit as any other in the world. They are raring to go, preparation is going on. Some athletes are here in India, some are abroad, some will reach Tokyo directly. It would be a level playing field for all. The entire contingent is preparing well. When every stakeholder (NSFs, SAI) is on the same page, the work is streamlined," Batra had said.
When asked about the vaccination of Olympic-bound athletes, Batra had said: "From IOC's side, there is nothing mandatory, they have some guidelines in Tokyo, if you reach the finals and then you test positive for COVID-19, so nobody knows what will happen. But why wait for such a situation, the best solution is that we get every party associated vaccinated. It is our duty to get our athletes vaccinated." Around 120 athletes and 27 para-athletes have received their first dose of the vaccine while 58 athletes and four para-athletes have got their second dose. Moreover, 114 coaches and support staff have got their first dose while 37 members have received their second dose as well.
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