Vaccination of all stakeholders a must to make Tokyo Olympics safe and trustworthy: Manu Bhaker | More sports News

2021-03-04 03:06:31

Shooter Manu Bhaker hopes IOC takes ‘right decisions’
NEW DELHI: The postponed Tokyo Olympics is now just a few months away with the opening ceremony scheduled for July 23. More than 11,000 athletes are expected to participate in the showpiece event. Along with the participating athletes, there will be thousands of stakeholders – coaches, officials, referees, umpires, judges, administrators, broadcasters, journalists etc. – who will travel to Japan during the extravaganza.
With the world still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, a majority of Japanese people oppose holding the Olympics – favouring a further delay or outright cancellation. A survey conducted by Kyodo News found around 80 percent of Japanese people want the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be either cancelled or postponed.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) hopes Covid-19 vaccine jabs for the participating athletes will address the concerns of Japanese people. The IOC, though, has a complicated stand on whether all athletes should be vaccinated before the Games. While IOC has stated in its recently-released first ‘Playbook’ that getting jabbed won’t be a “pre-requisite for participation”, it has simultaneously directed national Olympic committees of participating countries to “try and get the contingent vaccinated” before its arrival in Tokyo.
One of India’s big medal hopes, pistol shooter Manu Bhaker is optimistic that all athletes, coaches and other stakeholders will be given Covid-19 shots before they embark on their Tokyo journey.
“I think all athletes, who will be participating in the upcoming Olympics, coaches, and other stakeholders from across the globe should be administered the Covid-19 vaccine ahead of their arrival in Tokyo. It will be better if everyone gets an equal opportunity,” Bhaker, 19, told TOI in an exclusive interaction.
“If that happens, then the Olympic village in Tokyo is going to be safer and trustworthy. The athletes will be able to give their best without any mental baggage and the event will be conducted smoothly,” she added.
Manu is positive the IOC, in due course, will “take the right decisions”.
Regarding getting the Covid-19 shots, the shooter has not received any communication from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) or National Rifle Association of India yet. Recently, the IOA had written to the Union health minister Harsh Vardhan, requesting him to consider vaccinating the Olympics-bound Indian athletes on a priority basis.
Manu will be taking part in the women’s 10m air pistol event and the mixed team 10m air pistol event, along with Saurabh Chaudhry, at the Tokyo Olympics. In the lead up to the Games, the ace shooter wants to participate in more tournaments in order to keep her game razor sharp.
“It is very important to have tournament practice. There is no substitute to competition mode. It keeps us (shooters) in top shape and form. The more we shoot, the better we get. I know many people say that the shooting calendar is very hectic, but I tend to enjoy the busy schedule,” she said.
Recently, the sports ministry approved Manu’s proposal to hire the services of Singapore-based sports psychologist Sanjana Kiran for better preparation ahead of the Olympics. Reflecting on the engagement, Manu said, “Shooting requires intense mental strength and stability to be able to perform flawlessly at the highest level. That’s why I needed a sports psychologist.”

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