Put India’s Olympic contingent on COVID-19 vaccine priority list: Parliamentary panel

The recommendation was part of a report titled ‘Preparation for Olympics – 2021’ submitted to Rajya Sabha chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu.

By Utathya Nag ·

Indian athletes, coaches and support staff travelling to Japan for the Tokyo Olympics in July 2021 should be put on the priority list for COVID-19 vaccines, a Parliamentary panel recommended on Thursday.

The recommendation was part of a report titled ‘Preparation for Olympics – 2021’ submitted through online mode to Rajya Sabha chairperson and Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu. 

The report was prepared by the Parliamentary standing committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports, headed by Member of Parliament Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had earlier stated that they were monitoring the vaccines closely to ensure that athletes don't fall in trouble with doping regulations.

The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo were deferred to 2021 due to the pandemic.

The report also suggested medical staff and essential medical equipment like X-Ray and MRI machines be made available at select Sports Authority of India (SAI) and other training centres to safeguard athletes from potential risks of contracting the virus.

“This will ensure that athletes do not lose any time for treatment and recovery. This will also save them from travelling to hospitals where the chances of contracting COVID are the highest,” the report observes.

Among several other recommendations outlined in the report, was a suggestion for National Sports Federations to maximize the opportunities for Indian athletes to participate in international competitions before the Olympics to make up for the time lost due to COVID-19 lockdown.

“International competitions should be accorded priority as they prepare athletes for pressure situations they may find themselves in during actual Olympics,” the panel noted.

Organising more international-level sporting events in India was also encouraged as was the creation of ‘bio-bubbles’ in training facilities so athletes can be isolated in a secure environment and train with minimal possibility of being infected.

The committee also counselled relevant authorities to fill up vacancies for coaches in a timely manner to facilitate optimal preparation for the upcoming Summer Games.