In a statement issued on Friday (July 23), the Athletics Federation of India threatened action against those not performing well during the Tokyo Olympics.
In an earlier announcement, it had decided not to pull out long jumper M Sreeshankar and 20km race walker KT Irfan from participating in the Games due to a dip in their performances. Reports from Zee News stated the two athletes were not pulled out of the 26-member squad after AFI’s selection committee convened an emergency meeting to reach a “unanimous decision.” Some members were of the opinion that both should be withdrawn after under-performing in the trials in Bengaluru, but the committee noted that the trials were authorized to determine fitness, not form.
In a statement, AFI President Adille Sumariwalla told the media that his organization had spoken with the coaches of both athletes about their poor performance in the trials. “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 told Zee News, asserting that the message is meant for all those who are on the flight to Tokyo.
The best jump Sreeshankar achieved during the Fitness Trial at the Sports Authority of India Centre in Bengaluru on Wednesday was 7.48m, much lower than his success in qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics with 8.26m in March. Sreeshankar had pulled out of the Inter-State Championship (June 25-29) during the warmup at the NIS Patiala just before the event.
The first track and field athlete to qualify for the Olympics was Irfan from the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan in March 2019. He participated in a fitness trial on July 9. His last race was part of the National Race Walking Championships in Ranchi in March, where could not finish the race. In May, he was infected with COVID-19 and has since recovered from it.
Athletics events will be held from July 30 to August 8.