BENGALURU: Thangavelu Mariyappan, who was set to be the flag bearer of India's Paralympics team in Tokyo, will not be taking part in the opening ceremony on Tuesday. He was one of the first batch of athletes to fly to Tokyo a week ago, but the athlete came in close contact with a Covid positive foreign passenger in the flight. As a result, he has been replaced by another athlete Tek Chand as the flag bearer.
It is important to mention that after having reached the village, Mariyappan was tested for six days, and his reports have been confirmed as negative. However, he was advised to miss the opening ceremony, which is scheduled for 4:30 pm today.
"We have received information from the Tokyo Paralympics Games Covid control room that six of our teammates have been in close contact with a Covid-19 positive person, while travelling to Tokyo in a flight. Out of the six, two of them are Mariyappan and Vinod Kumar and have also been found to be in close contact. Regretfully, Thangavelu will not be able to take part in the march past today. Tek Chand will be the new flag bearer," Gurcharan Singh, India's Chef De Mission said.
Singh, who is also the secretary-general of the Paralympic Committee of India, added that both will be eligible for practice and can also feature in their respective events. Also 2016 Rio Paralympics gold medallist Mariyappan is one of the best bets for a medal in the high jump F42 event for India.
India have sent their largest-ever contingent of 54 para-athletes for the Paralympics Games, which concludes on September 5.