Indian Olympic Association president Narinder Batra on Wednesday said they are keeping a close watch on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, something that might pose a threat to the Tokyo Games in six months’ time, reported PTI.

The novel coronavirus is said to have emerged late last year in a Wuhan seafood market in Hubei province that was illegally trading wildlife. It can cause pneumonia and spreads between people in droplets from coughs and sneezes. Studies suspect that bats are the origin of the disease.

“We are very much on board. We are going by all the medical advisories and sharing them to the athletes. Nobody is misinformed. We are not lacking in sharing any information. Don’t worry on that,” Batra said in Kolkata.

The outbreak has left Tokyo Olympics chief executive officer Toshiro Muto ‘extremely worried’ about its possible effect on Games, which is slated for July 24-August 8, reported AFP.

Toshiro Muto said he hoped the outbreak in China would be quickly contained to restore confidence in the run-up to the Olympics.

“We are extremely worried in the sense that the spread of the infectious virus could pour cold water on momentum for the Games,” he said before a meeting with the International Paralympic Committee.

“I hope that it can be eradicated as quickly as possible. We plan to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee, the IPC, the government and the city of Tokyo to tackle the disease.”

The government recently gave a substantial hike of Rs 312.42 crore to its flagship Khelo India programme but the highest reduction was seen in National Sports Federations with Rs 245.00 crore being allocated, Rs 55 crore less than the revised Rs 300.85 for 2019-20.

Reacting to the Union Budget, Batra said: “I don’t know where this apprehensions coming from. In fact the budget has gone up by 500 crore.” As per current programme, senior (65 per cent) and junior (35 per cent) programs used to come through SAI. We would give annual calendars. Entire junior programme now has gone to Khelo India.

“So actually that Rs 450 crore remains only for seniors now. There’s a substantial increase. Khelo India there’s an increase of almost Rs 500 crores. There was never any budget for National Sports Federations. SAI and Government never given a penny to the National federations,” he said.

More than 10 medals?

The IOA chief, however, said India’s preparation is on track as they are aiming to go double digits in Tokyo and keep improving the figure to 40-plus by 2028 Los Angeles Olympics to make their bid stronger for the 2032 Games.

“I am not putting up a figure but I think we can take our tally to double figures. In 2024 (Paris), we should aim for 20-plus medals and 40-plus in Los Angeles. Then only we can say we want to bid for 2032 Olympics,” he said.

Batra said he is expecting medals from “shooters, boxers, shuttlers and weightlifters” at the Games.

“I also hope that the Indian men’s hockey team get it. It’s going right, and hope it too would be able to finish on the podium. We have medal hopes from them this time,” Batra said.

“2009 onwards we have run a full programme. Both men’s and women’s teams have made rapid progresses. In fitness both men’s and women’s are second to none. Tell me one country which men’s have not beaten. Women also have it in them to give any team a run for their money.”

(With PTI inputs)