New Delhi: The Athletics Federation of India on Friday threatened to take action against all those athletes who fail to perform well at the Tokyo Olympics. The announcement comes after it decided not to pull out long jumper M Sreeshankar and 20km race walker KT Irfan from the event despite a dip in their form.
The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the selection committee of the AFI where a “unanimous decision” was taken to not pull the two athletes out of the Games.
According to the AFI, the trials in Bengaluru that were conducted just before the Olympics were conducted to test the player’s fitness and not their form.
This decision was taken despite strong reactions from some of the members of the committee.
AFI President Adille Sumariwalla said that he had talks with the coaches of the two athletes reagrding their dip in form.
“The coaches have promised that their respective athletes would give their best in Tokyo. Sreeshankar’s father and coach have assured of good performance from his athlete. “If athletes do not perform well in the Olympics, we will take action against them,” he warned.
Sumariwalla added that this message was for all the athletes who were in Tokyo representing India.
During the trials in Bengaluru, Sreeshankar’s best jump was 7.48m which is nowhere near the 8.26m that he managed during the Federation Cup in March to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
Sreeshankar’s father S Murali, who is accompanying him to Tokyo as coach, said he will do well in the Olympics.
“He (Sreeshankar) will do well. There is not much of an issue,” he simply said, when asked about Sreeshankar’s dip in form.
Irfan, who underwent a fitness trial on July 9, was the first track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympics way back in March 2019 during the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan.
His last competition was during the National Race Walking Championships in March in Ranchi, where he did not finish the race. He contracted COVID-19 in May and has recovered since then.
Sumariwalla said the selection committee recommended that there be a national championship ahead of all major events and that athletes would need to perform in that selection meet.
“The selectors were of the view that athletes, especially those who meet qualification standards early, need to compete in the final selection trial and show their performance,” he said.
A 44-member contingent, including 25 athletes, will leave for Tokyo from here this evening. Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, along with his physio and coach, will arrive in Tokyo on July 26 from his training base in Sweden.
Athletics events will be held from July 30 to August 8.
With inputs from PTI