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Pakistani contestants fail to fully observe bubble SOPs

Pakistani contestants fail to fully observe bubble SOPs

LAHORE: Though every athlete and official who are part of the Pakistan contingent for the Tokyo Olympics were tested seven times each for Covid-19, they could not fully follow the standard operating procedures (SOPs) set for bio-secure bubble.

The last flight of the athletes, including Arshad Nadeem and Najma Parveen, is set to take off on Thursday from different airports as the government did not plan send-off the 20-member contingent together.

Meanwhile, weightlifter Talha Talib will leave for Tokyo on Wednesday night along with Brig Zaheer Akhtar, Chef de Mission retired Lt Colonel Mohammad Nasir Ijaz Tung, while Six athletes along with their support personnel have already reached the Olympic Village.

Pakistan are fielding a tiny contingent comprising 10 competitors and as many officials for the coming Games but they had to depart for Tokyo in three batches from different cities.

An official of the contingent told Dawn that the SOPs for the bio-secure bubble could not be followed as athletes preferred to train on their own in different cities — such as shooters in Jhelum, athletes in Lahore and Faisalabad, swimmers in Islamabad — so it was not possible to set up bio-secure bubble in each of the centres.

The official claimed on Monday, the Athletics Federation of Pakistan also hosted a reception in honour of Arshad in Lahore, while adding every player and official had cleared all Covid-19 tests.

The official, however, lamented, that unlike India, the federal government did not plan any sendoff ceremony for the athletes. It may be mentioned here that the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi organised a lavish sendoff ceremony for his country’s Olympic contingent, which includes 120 athletes.

The official said according to the IOC’s SOPs such sendoffs were not allowed and he didn’t know how the Indian prime minister organised such an event.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2021

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