The parliamentary body seeks priority vaccinations for athletes before the Olympic Games

A panel in parliament on Thursday recommended adding athletes, coaches and support staff for the 2021 Olympics in Japan to the priority group for the COVID-19 vaccination process.

The committee also expressed concern about a large number of vacancies for coaches, saying they should be filled for a limited time so that the Olympic preparations are not affected. The Olympic Games in Japan are scheduled to take place from July next year.

The panel has also recommended identifying training facilities, stadiums and sports centers for Olympic-qualified athletes that have not yet opened. It was said that the closed centers should be reopened “at the earliest” or the athletes should be moved to alternative centers that are open.
The Departmental Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sport, headed by Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, presented its report on “Preparing for the Olympic Games – 2021” in virtual mode to the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, M Venkaiah Naidu.

According to the report, medical personnel and other medical equipment such as X-ray and MRI machines should be made available at selected Indian sports authorities and other training centers. “This ensures that athletes don’t waste time on treatment and recovery. This will also discourage them from traveling to hospitals where the chances of developing COVID are highest, ”she noted.

The panel pointed out that due to bans and travel restrictions triggered by coronaviruses, international and national competition exposure was lost, which severely affected the athletes’ training.
“The department and the national sports federations must ensure that the players are given the opportunity to play a maximum of international tournaments before the 2021 Olympics.

“International competitions should have priority as they prepare athletes for the pressures they may find themselves in during the actual Olympics,” it said. The committee found that traveling to tournaments far away is a major challenge for athletes. Countries like France and Germany that have tournaments at home have produced more champions.

“India should host more international tournaments so players can travel less, collect more points and move up the leaderboard. Also, more athletes can benefit from the same amount that India spends sending athletes overseas for exposure, ”the report said.
The Standing Committee also recommended the creation of “bio-bubbles” in training facilities so that “athletes can be isolated in a safe environment and train with minimal risk of infection”.

It has been suggested that athletes capable of reaching the finals or the medal hopefuls should offer individual programs and send them overseas as soon as possible in a “bubble environment” where world-class scientific infrastructure is available. Several foreign coaches have also been found to have resigned and returned to their respective countries as the pandemic progressed.

In addition, most sports disciplines have foreign experts who are either 65 or older. The over 65-year-olds were asked by their respective sports associations not to visit any training locations. “There are around 561 vacancies for coaches. This is unacceptable. These should be replenished within a certain time-bound manner so that the Olympic preparations do not suffer, ”it says. Regarding COVID-19 vaccination, it said that athletes, as well as coaches and support staff attending the Olympics should be included in the priority group for the vaccination process.