No athlete should raise issues about Olympics presently: Rijiju

New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said on Thursday that athletes and other stakeholders should refrain from commenting on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics amid the rising concern over the coronavirus pandemics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) came under criticism from several athletes, including Indian badminton star Parupalli Kashyap, for their recent statement in which it encouraged sportspersons to continue with their preparations for the Olympics amid the rising concern over the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nobody should raise any issue about the Olympics right now because nobody knows what is going to happen after three months. What will be the situation then nobody knows but we have to respond to the emerging situation as per the directions of the international bodies and respective sovereign government,” Rijiju told reporters.

The Olympics is scheduled to start on July 24 but the restrictions that have been imposed to curb the spread of the pandemic, which has claimed close to 9000 lives around the world thus far, has led to a number of qualification events being cancelled or indefinitely postponed.

In India, the sports ministry’s fresh advisory issued on Thursday, which asked for all sports events until April 15 to be suspended, puts a cloud on the Indian Grand Prix and the Federation Cup athletic events.

Rijiju said that the suspension extends to all training activities and trials with exception to those who have qualified for the Olympics or are close to qualification who can continue their training activities “under strict vigilance.” When asked how an athlete will be determined to be close to qualification, Rijiju said, “That we will have to decided case to case. Not everyone is the same. If exceptions are to be given to those that are deemed very critical, then it can be done only by following the proper norms and procedures.”

Travel restrictions to and from other countries have forced star athletes such as javeline thrower Neeraj Chopra and wrestler Vinesh Phogat among others to cut short their foreign training camps and rush back to the country. Rijiju said that all athletes have to go through the quarantine procedures that have been put in place by the Health Ministry.

“The guidelines issued by the health ministry is being implemented throughout the country. There is no exception for anybody. Athletes who are coming back to India from countries that are affected by the virus are quarantined as per the provisions and anybody who has come from abroad has been put in isolation,” he said.



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