Two 5-bedroom apartments to be booked to accommodate India athletes’ near and dear

NEW DELHI,CHANDER SHEKHAR LUTHRA :Like in the past, Indian athletes for the upcoming Rio Olympics have started forwarding lists of their close relatives or personal trainers who will stay with them during the mega event in Brazil.

However, with only a certain number of people being allowed to stay in the Olympic Village, the sports ministry has begun to make arrangements for some athletes’ relatives or trainers outside the village. It has been learnt that two five-bedroom apartments would be booked separately outside the Village in order to accommodate such people. This is bound to put more burden on the government exchequer.

The trend of taking people along to the Games is not new in Indian sport. Before every Olympics or Asian Games, the ministry and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) usually get flooded with such requests from athletes.

Saina Nehwal, for example, has asked the IOA to allow her father, Harvir Singh, to be with her in Rio. Her junior partner and another badminton medal contender, PV Sindhu, has forwarded the name of her mother, P Vijaya, to be by her side at the Games.

Some other proposals that have landed at the ministry’s doorsteps are from table tennis player Manika Batra and golfer Aditi Ashok. While Batra wants her personal coach Sandeep Gupta to accompany her, Aditi has asked that her father, Ashok, be allowed to travel as “caddie” in an official capacity. dna has learnt that Aditi’s father usually caddies for her at international tournaments.

Proposals from certain athletes, like that of Sania Mirza, have already been accepted by the ministry. The World No. 1 women’s doubles tennis player wanted her mother, Naseema, to travel with her to Rio. Her wish was accepted by the authorities when Naseema was named as “team manager” of the tennis contingent.

Incidentally, this will be Naseema’s third Olympics as team manager of the tennis team after having travelled to Beijing (2008) and London (2012) in a similar capacity. The All India Tennis Association (AITA) has already sent her name to IOA as an “official”. It took no time for IOA to approve it, given that IOA treasurer Anil Khanna is AITA president as well.