New Delhi: From a bio-bubble, 200-day training plan and in-depth cardio pulmonary tests to Covid-19 vaccine on priority, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Youth and Sport has made a number of recommendations for athletes headed to the Tokyo Olympics.
The mega sports event was to be held in Tokyo this year but was postponed to July 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
With the pandemic still raging, the committee headed by the BJP’s Vinay Sahasrabuddhe has in its report noted that the first priority should be to secure athletes from infection. It has suggested setting up a bio bubble, which has become the norm for sporting events across the globe.
A bio bubble refers to a safe environment in which athletes and other stakeholders such as coaches and support staff can enter only after they test Covid-19 negative. Only those authorised can enter the bubble while those in it cannot leave the safe space.
The committee has also called for vaccinating against Covid the athletes and their support staff on a priority basis. According to the report, 74 athletes, including two teams, have qualified for the games so far.
The House panel has further said since the pandemic has put an end to domestic tournaments, athletes should be sent to international competitions and centres to ensure that they receive enough practice in the Olympic year.
“International competitions should be accorded priority as they prepare athletes for pressure situations that they may find in the actual Olympics,” the report states.
Among other suggestions, the committee has called for equipping Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres with MRI and X-Ray machines so athletes have minimal interaction with hospitals in the Covid-19 year. It has also recommended setting up a fully functional round-the-clock anti-doping helpline.
Here are some the recommendations mentioned in the report, a copy of which was seen by ThePrint.
200-day training plan
A sub-committee of the panel, headed by Jyotiraditya Scindia, has submitted a proposal urging head coaches to come up with a 200-day plan for athletes who have qualified for the games. “The plan should list the focus areas for training, guidelines for preparation, and nutritional advice that athletes can follow to streamline their preparation,” the report said.
It has also called for engaging former domestic athletes as well as global experts or consultants, in the virtual mode, to guide athletes in the final stages of preparation for the Olympics.
The committee has recommended appointing a chief procurement officer in the Mission Olympic Cell (MOC) created under the chairmanship of the director general, SAI, as part of The Olympics Podium Scheme (TOPS) to coordinate and fast-track procurement of training equipment that is in shortage.
The report added that head coaches should undertake a sports equipment availability analysis across their respective sporting facilities. “Requests for essential equipment in shortage should be immediately escalated to the MOC who can fast track procurement and provisioning of the equipment,” the report said.
It added that Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya briefed the committee that there are only 780 certified coaches across disciplines in the country and that there is an alarming shortage of 720 coaches. It said he also flagged financial constraints, saying the sports ministry was compelled to borrow Rs 40 crore from the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) to manage salaries and expenses of sports hostels upto November 2019.
It also said Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary Rajeev Mehta told the committee that the lack of infrastructure has hampered the country’s medal efforts.
“He (Mehta) stated that India and China have the same population ratio but China has 1,69,000 stadiums whereas many Indian states are completely empty with no indoor stadiums/stadiums/athletic grounds or Astro turfs,” the report said.
Anti-doping measures, upgraded facilities at SAI
The committee has also recommended ensuring medical staff and medical equipment such as X-Ray and MRI machines are made available at select SAI and other training centres.
“This will ensure that athletes do not lose any time for treatment and recovery. This will also keep them from travelling to hospitals where the chances of contracting Covid are the highest,” the panel’s report said.
“Dedicated physiotherapists should be made available in all the national training centres.”
The panel has also called for sport injury insurance schemes through a collaborative effort of the central and state governments. “The insurance schemes should be tailored as per the needs of each sports discipline, each state, and should cover players from different categories,” the report said.
Given it is the Olympic year, the committee has urged authorities to hold regular webinars and e-learning courses to educate athletes and coaches about doping.
“They should also be made aware of the changes in the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code,” the report read.
It has also recommended expediting efforts to set up the National Anti-Doping Authority as an autonomous body independent of the government.