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COVID-19 vaccine: AFI requests government to give priority to Olympic-bound athletes

Athletics Federation of India (AFI) on Wednesday said it had requested the government to give priority to Olympic-bound athletes when a COVID-19 vaccine is available.

Several countries, including India, are trying to develop a coronavirus vaccine. The Indian government is considering inoculating the front line workers, Army personnel and certain categories first.

“We have already discussed this with the government and told them we will need it (vaccine) for our athletes going to the Olympics,” AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said during a webinar.

“We need to make sure once the vaccine comes out, they (Olympic-bound athletes) should be amongst the first batches to get it and the discussion regarding that has already happened,” he added.

Asked if any player was apprehensive about getting inoculated, like tennis star Novak Djokovic, or if the vaccine could cause problem with dope control, national badminton coach Pullela Gopichand said the athletes were looking forward to it.

“I don’t think there will be an issue with the athletes, they are just waiting for the vaccine to come. There will be trails that will ensure the players are feeling confident when they take the vaccine,” said Gopichand.

Sumariwalla said since all the countries across the globe were suffering from the pandemic, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) must be aware that these (potential vaccines) are not for enhancing performance.

“I don’t think there is any issue with dope control because it is a worldwide thing. The WADA would have taken enough cognisance of the fact that these are not performance-enhancing drugs and that they have been taken to protect the health and wellbeing,” he said.