CHENNAI: Considering the more severe quarantine rules for those travelling from India to Tokyo, the Indian Olympic-bound boxers are expected to leave directly from Italy, the place where they are currently refining their skills. In fact, when the team departed for Italy, the initial plan was to get much-needed training in Assisi till July 8 and return to India before leaving for Tokyo. However, the change in plan has meant some of the boxers — Manish Kaushik, Satish Kumar, Pooja Rani and Simranjit Kaur — and support staff are unable to get their vaccination due to strict vaccination policy in Italy.
Alert about the vaccination hurdles, the sports ministry has sought the assistance of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to help the boxers and other athletes like javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, wrestlers Ravi Dahiya and Deepak Punia. “I’m aware that they are trying to help through the Indian embassy in Italy. But I don’t know the details,” Raffaele Bergamasco, India women’s high performance coach, said.
Neeraj, according to a Sports Authority of India release, is currently based in Uppasala (Sweden) and is unable to get the vaccine as Covishield (AstraZeneca) is available only for those above the age of 65. Dahiya and Punia, who got the first dose of Covishield in India, are unable to take the second shot because of the unavailability of the vaccine in Russia. One of the wrestlers is hopeful they will be able to get the second dose by July 15. The duo, along with Bajrang Punia — who are vaccinated — are expected to leave for Tokyo on July 26 or 27.
“The Boxing Federation of India wrote to the government to let the boxers continue training in Italy till it leaves for Tokyo. It thus became important that the MEA provides assistance to ensure that the 15 members are fully vaccinated,” the SAI said in a release.Even though vaccination is not mandatory at the upcoming Olympics, India is taking no chances and has decided to vaccinate those who’ll be part of the Games on a priority basis.
The Indian boxers have been training in Assisi for a little over two weeks now. Even MC Mary Kom, who had initially planned to give the trip a miss and train in India itself, recently joined the group bearing in mind the quarantine complications that she could face if she travelled from India. The pugilists, are getting the opportunity to spar with Olympic-bound pugilists from rival countries. The boxers are expected to reach Tokyo on July 17 or 18.
Shooters Rahi Sarnobat, Saurabh Chaudhary and Deepak Kumar are also expected to get their second doses of vaccination in Croatia soon. The trio, along with other shooters/support staff, is currently undergoing training Zagreb.