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44 Indian athletes to participate in Olympics opening ceremony amid Covid fears

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Tokyo, July 22

No more than 44 Indian athletes will participate in the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday in view of the Covid threat.

The athletes who have competitions lined up the next day have already been told to skip the event. With six officials, the total Indian presence during the march past would add up to 50.

“We won’t like to create a situation where our athletes are in danger of getting infected. So a decision has been taken to limit the number of athletes and officials participating in the opening ceremony within 50,” Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta told PTI.

The decision was taken after a meeting between chef de mission and coaches here on Thursday morning.

India is being represented by more than 125 athletes in the Games with the overall contingent size being 228, including officials, coaches, other support staff and alternative athletes in view of the Covid.

“Six officials (from every country) are allowed at the ceremony but there is no cap on athletes. However, we have advised the athletes who have events the next day to skip the ceremony and focus on their game,” deputy chef de mission Prem Kumar Verma had said on Wednesday.

The likes of 10m air pistol shooters Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Apurvi Chandela and Elavenil Valarivan, who have events on the first competition day, will skip the ceremony along with Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Deepak Kumar and Divyansh Singh Panwar who will be shooting on the second day.

The Indian team has eight rifle, five pistol and two skeet shooters, besides six coaches and a physiotherapist in Tokyo.

Boxers, archers and the men’s and women’s hockey teams are also scheduled to compete the day after the opening ceremony.

India have named men’s hockey captain Manpreet Singh and six-time world champion woman boxer MC Mary Kom as the flag-bearers for the opening ceremony.

While Mary Kom is not scheduled to compete the next day, Manpreet will be leading the side out for the first Pool A game against New Zealand on Saturday.

“Those who are quarantining are also not allowed,” Verma said about the athletes and officials, who have recently landed in the Japanese city.

Among other countries, Britain will have no more than 30 athletes taking part in the ceremony due to Covid fears. The UK has 376 athletes in fray at the Games. PTI

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