The Swimming Federation of India (SFI) is in talks with French Sports Ministry as it seeks exemption for Indian team from the mandatory 10-day quarantine ahead of an international competition in Monaco on May 29.
“Due to Covid-19 protocols, visitors arriving in France have to undergo 10 days of quarantine. But we have requested the French Sports Ministry to support the elite Indian swimmers so that they can compete in Monaco. If we get a positive response, we will send the team. Otherwise we will have to miss the opportunity to qualify for Tokyo Olympic Games starting July 23,” SFI secretary-general Monal Chokshi told IANS.
Six Indian swimmers, including Sajan Prakash and Srihari Nataraj, have achieved Olympics ‘B’ qualification mark in their respective events.
“As per rules, the ‘B’ qualification time doesn’t guarantee participation in Olympics. It is sort of wild card entry, but ‘A’ qualification time earns an automatic berth,” said Chokshi.
Due to the second wave of Covid-19, the domestic swimming calendar has been disrupted.
“There are few opportunities to compete in international events. The deadline to achieve ‘A’ qualification time is June 27. It’s a challenge as several European countries have long quarantine rules. Even if we get a visa, the main problem is staying indoors for 10-15 days due to quarantine rules. For swimmers, it is important to do conditioning in water. Otherwise, the performance graph will decline,” explained Chokshi.
Last month, the Indian team participated in the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships in Tashkent.
Nataraj broke the national record twice in 100 metres backstroke event. But his national record of 54.07 seconds fell short of ‘A’ qualification time of 53.85 seconds.