Govt exempts Olympic returnees from RT-PCR test

TOKYO, Jul 25: Athletes, officials and media returning to the country from Tokyo Olympics will not be required to produce RT-PCR negative test reports for COVID-19 before their departure from the Japanese capital, the Government of India said on Sunday.

The decision was intimated in an official letter by Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare after the Indian Olympic President Narinder Batra had earlier in the day requested the government to exempt returnees from the Tokyo Games to produce RT-PCR negative report before boarding their flights.

The Health Ministry official, however, said that only those individuals who have returned negative in the saliva-based test prior to their departure to India will be allowed to board the flight.

Besides, all those returning from Tokyo will be retested upon landing in India.

“Only asymptomatic individuals should be allowed to board the flight.

“The delegation will, however, have to be retested on arrival and would be allowed to leave the Airport after giving the samples with the condition that they will be required to undertake self-monitoring of their health for 14 days,” said the Health Ministry letter communication to Sports Ministry.

Earlier in the day, in a letter addressed to Sports Secretary Ravi Mittal, Batra said since the Olympic contingent members have been fully vaccinated and undergone tests on a regular basis in Tokyo, they be exempted from the requirement of showing RT-PCR negative test reports while returning to the country.

“Our humble request… Is to allow the athletes, officials, IOA delegates, NSF officials/delegates and the media, who are coming back from Tokyo and have an accreditation card based on which Japan allowed them entry into Japan, be allowed to enter back in India without RT PCR test and report,” said Batra.

According to Tokyo Olympics COVID-19 protocols, athletes undergo antigen tests everyday and those who return positive or have values close to infection have their RT PCR tests done. Also, athletes have to leave Tokyo within 48 hours of their events getting over.

India’s entire contingent was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 before its departure for Tokyo Olympics and Batra said it should be taken into consideration.

“You are very well aware that all athletes, all officials (IOA and NSF) are: 1. Double Vaccinated, 2. Took 2 RT PCR tests before departure to Tokyo, 3. Every member of the contingent, delegate from IOA & NSFs are being tested in Tokyo everyday for Covid with Sylvia test till each individual’s departure back to India,” he said.

“To get RTPCR test done in Tokyo or outside Tokyo where contingent is based is a very difficult task. Here paper work is perfect but in practice there is lot of confusion and very difficult to get things.”

Batra requested the government to write to Japanese counterparts to allow the Indian contingent to board the flight from Tokyo without any COVID-19 test.

The weightlifting contingent will depart for India from Tokyo on Monday after Mirabai Chanu won a historic silver in women’s 49kg event.

Batra informed that the airlines that will be coming to India from Japan are Air India, Vistara, All Nippon Airlines and Japan Airlines.

“Information is also requested to be made aware to all the four Airlines to allow all …To board the flight, without RT-PCR test & report.”

India fielded its largest ever contingent of 127 athletes at the Tokyo Olympics, which also includes the highest female representation of 56. (PTI)