No athlete is misinformed on coronavirus outbreak: IOA chief

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra on Wednesday said they are keeping a close watch on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, something that might pose a threat to the Tokyo Games in six months’ time.

The deadly virus, which was first detected in the Wuhan province, has so far killed nearly 500 people and infected at least 24,000 in mainland China.

The outbreak has left Tokyo Olympics chief executive officer Toshiro Muto “extremely worried” about its possible effect on Games, which is slated for July 24-August 8.

“We are very much on board. We are going by all the medical advisories and sharing them to the athletes. Nobody is misinformed. We are not lacking in sharing any information. Don’t worry on that,” Batra said here.

The IOA chief, however, said India’s preparation is on track as they are aiming to go double digits in Tokyo and keep improving the figure to 40-plus by 2028 Los Angeles Olympics to make their bid stronger for the 2032 Games.

“I am not putting up a figure but I think we can take our tally to double figures. In 2024 (Paris), we should aim for 20-plus medals and 40-plus in Los Angeles. Then only we can say we want to bid for 2032 Olympics,” he said.

Batra said he is expecting medals from “shooters, boxers, shuttlers and weightlifters” at the Games.

“I also hope that the Indian men’s hockey team get it. It’s going right, and hope it too would be able to finish on the podium. We have medal hopes from them this time,” Batra said.

“2009 onwards we have run a full programme. Both men’s and women’s teams have made rapid progresses. In fitness both men’s and women’s are second to none. Tell me one country which men’s have not beaten. Women also have it in them to give any team a run for their money.”

The government recently gave a substantial hike of Rs 312.42 crore to its flagship Khelo India programme but the highest reduction was seen in National Sports Federations with Rs 245.00 crore being allocated, Rs 55 crore less than the revised Rs 300.85 for 2019-20.

Reacting to the Union Budget, Batra said: “I don’t know where this apprehensions coming from. In fact the budget has gone up by 500 crore.”

“As per current programme, senior (65 per cent) and junior (35 per cent) programs used to come through SAI. We would give annual calendars. Entire junior programme now has gone to Khelo India.

“So actually that Rs 450 crore remains only for seniors now. There’s a substantial increase. Khelo India there’s an increase of almost Rs 500 crores. There was never any budget for National Sports Federations. SAI and Government never given a penny to the National federations.”