By Navneet Singh
New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Top Indian swimmers, including national record holder Srihari Nataraj, could not compete in an Olympic Games qualification event in Monaco last week as the French government didnt exempt the 10-day quarantine rule for them, a top swimming official said on Thursday.
“There is a travel restriction for Indians due to the second coronavirus wave in India. But we requested the French government to reduce the 10-day quarantine rule for the national swimming team. Since they didn’t agree, we had to cancel the tour,” Monal Chokshi, secretary general of Swimming Federation of India (SFI), told IANS.
Chokshi said that if the swimmers don’t train in the pool for 10 days it wouldn’t be possible to achieve good results.
“We are looking for two competitions next month in Europe where the quarantine period for Indians is less than a week. If all goes according to plan, we would send the national team to Europe,” he said.
As per the plan, the Indian team would compete in Serbia on June 19 followed by another event on June 25 in Italy.
“Once Indian team goes through the Covid-19 protocols in Serbia, it wouldn’t be difficult to travel to Italy,” said Chokshi.
The deadline to achieve the Tokyo Olympics A qualification mark is June 27.
Last month, Nataraj looked in fine touch. He broke the national record twice in 100m backstroke during the Uzbekistan Open Swimming Championships in Tashkent. But his national record of 54.07 seconds fell short of Olympics A qualification time 53.85 seconds.
“He has a good chance. Hopefully, he would get an opportunity to compete in Serbia and Italy,” said Chokshi.
Six Indian swimmers, including Sajan Prakash and Nataraj, have achieved Olympics B qualification marks in their respective events.
As per rules of the swimming world governing body, B qualification time doesn’t guarantee participation in Olympics, it is a sort of wild card entry while A qualification time is an automatic berth.