Indian swimmers are expected to participate in a couple of tournaments in Europe next season, with them aiming to breach the Olympic A qualification mark. Six Indian swimmers, including Srihari Nataraj, have already breached the B qualification mark, but that won’t guarantee them a Tokyo berth.
The core group of Indian swimmers were unable to compete in an Olympic qualifying event in Monaco last week as the French government had directed the players to serve a 10-day quarantine period. In spite of requests, the European country did not agree to exempt the mandatory period, in wake of the second Covid-19 wave in India. As per the officials, it wouldn’t be possible for the swimmers to achieve positive results if they do not train for 10 consecutive days.
"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," said Monal Choksi, secretary-general of SFI (Swimming Federation of India).
However, the federation is quite hopeful of sending the squad to a couple of competitions next month. The cut-off for Olympic qualification is June 27. Six Indian swimmers, including Srihari Nataraj and Sajan Prakash, have already attained Olympic B qualification mark, but direct entries would only be granted to A mark holders.
"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. Once Indian team goes through the Covid-19 protocols in Serbia, it wouldn't be difficult to travel to Italy,” added the official.