Chief national coach Pullela Gopichand will not be on the court-side when PV Sindhu starts the campaign for her second Olympic medal at Tokyo later this month. With Saina Nehwal and Sindhu winning Olympic medals in 2012 and 2016 consecutively, the Indian team will look to complete a hat-trick of medals at Tokyo. Gopichand was Sindhu’s coach when she won the silver at Rio in 2016.
With the Badminton Association of India (BAI) getting to choose only a five-member support for the four qualified players because of strict COVID-19 protocols, Gopichand decided to opt out in favour of two foreign singles coaches.
Thus, the nine-member Indian contingent finalised on Tuesday comprises the four qualified players — Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth and men’s doubles duo of Chirag Shetty and Satwik Rankireddy — three coaches and two physios.
Singles coach Park Tae-Sang and Agus Dwi Santosa, along with doubles coach Mathias Boe and physios Evangline Baddam and Sumansh Sivalanka will be accompanying the players in Tokyo.
“With just one quota available, Gopichand decided to opt out to ensure Agus Dwi Santosa could be accommodated. Santosa has been training with Sai [Praneeth] since the pandemic,” said BAI General Secretary Ajay Singhania said in a statement on Tuesday.
Earlier, BAI had proposed a seven-member coaching and support staff to be sent along with the players.
However, due to strict COVID-19 protocols, only a 5-member team of coaches and support staff has been allowed to travel with the badminton contingent, the release said.
As a rule, only 33 per cent of any nation’s contingent can be support staff.