Narinder Batra: Counselling athletes important amid COVID-19 pandemic

The IOA president says any proper resumption of sporting activities will only be possible after a vaccine is developed.

Narinder Batra says he expects a vaccine for the novel coronavirus to be available by December, 2020 or January, 2021.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra admits any proper resumption of sporting activities would only be possible after a vaccine is developed for the ongoing pandemic and feels it would be important to counsel players in the meantime.

“I think it is very obvious and understandable for all players to have a fear psychosis at the back of their minds. I think the worry or concern of ‘what might happen’ would always be there until there is a vaccine to take care of COVID-19. I expect one to be available by December or January but yes, counselling athletes in this period would be very important,” Batra said in a free-wheeling online interaction with Sportskeeda.

He also admitted that the present times have forced a review of sporting activities. “Although some may begin, I won’t say there can be proper resumption till we can conduct competitions in a controlled environment. By that, I mean in full control of rules and parameters of any sport,” he said but added that he was hopeful of things improving by year-end.

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“New Zealand has been declared COVID[-19] free, other countries in Europe also have numbers going down. USA, Brazil, Russia and India are the main concerns right now. I don’t see why things won’t improve further and be conducive for the Olympics by next year,” he said.

Asked about issues within the IOA and the frequent face-offs with the sports ministry on good governance, Batra was categorical. “A lot of prominent people have held top positions in IOA but with passage of time, everything has to change. I am facing resistance because I believe things must change to improve but a lot of people get used to the old ways and system, for many foreign travel is the only reason to be in sports administration.

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“I don’t think so, I believe we exist because of and only for the athletes and I am confident of succeeding. As for the ministry, I am completely in agreement with things like selection transparency and age and tenure clauses, I think they allow more people to grow into top positions. No federation or organisation is the personal property of any person or family,” he stressed.

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