Indian rower Arjun Lal says Olympic buzz missing in Tokyo

Indian rowers Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in men's lightweight double sculls event after finishing second in the final race of the Asia/Oceania Continental Qualifying Regatta.

India's Arjun Lal Jat and Arvind Singh cross the finish line in the lightweight men's double sculls heat.   -  AFP

Arjun Lal Jat made the Olympic cut in the very city which is gearing up to host the showpiece in less than three months but the Indian rower said the buzz is distinctly missing in Tokyo as it battles the all-pervading COVID-19 threat.

The Olympics open in Tokyo on July 23. "It is less than 80 days for the Olympics but it is weird, there is very little Olympic atmosphere building up. The streets are empty, no people, very few vehicles, though we are told there is lockdown going on," said Arjun.

"I am thrilled to have qualified for the Olympics and I want the Olympics to happen, otherwise all our efforts of four years will go in vain. But if it (Olympics) happens, it will be a totally different one."

Indian rowing team of Arjun Lal and Arvind Singh qualifies for Olympics  

Indian rowers Arjun and Arvind Singh qualified in men’s lightweight double sculls event after finishing second in the final race of the Asia/Oceania Continental Qualifying Regatta in Tokyo on Friday. The two rowers train together at an Army facility in Pune. They won a silver in the 2019 Asian Championships in South Korea.

Strict protocols

The 24-year-old Arjun, who hails from Rajasthan, said the rowers adhered to strict COVID-19 protocols and were threatened with disqualification in case of a failure to comply.

"The guidelines and protocols are very strict and we have to follow them, otherwise we will be disqualified," he said.

"Testing for COVID-19 began at the airport on arrival on May 1. We had to wait for the report at the airport. We lost a lot of time there, nearly five hours. After reaching the hotel, we underwent three tests since then in six days," said Arjun.

ALSO READ - Wrestler Sumit Malik qualifies for Olympics

"Mingling with teammates was not allowed at the hotel and the competition venue. Wearing a mask was mandatory all the time except while eating, drinking and during training and competitions.

"We have been kept together on one floor but have to stay inside our rooms. We are allowed to leave hotel rooms only for eating meals and for going for training and competitions."

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :