Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra has expressed hopes that the country will be able to send a contingent comprising 125 athletes for the Tokyo Olympics next year. Also Read - Sports Ministry Moves Delhi High Court Seeking Restoration of Provisional Recognition to 57 NSFs

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With coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc on the sporting world resulting in the postponement of Olympics to 2021, Batra said the time leading up to the quadrennial games will be critical and they will focus on elite athletes. Also Read - IOA President Narinder Batra Appeals Officials And Members to Shun Infighting

“The next one year is going to be critical and the focus will be on elite athletes. While we have 78 athletes who have already qualified, I am confident the numbers will go up to about 125 athletes once international competitions and qualifying meets resume around the globe,” Batra said on Tuesday.

June 23 is International Olympic Day and to mark the occasion, Batra was joined by sporting legends including Leander Paes, Abhinav Bindra and Anju Bobby George during a webinar during which the discussion centred around sports in a post-coronavirus world.

Few athletes belonging to different disciplines have resumed training and Batra urged to take the best out of the worst situation.

“The preparations will be a joint effort by the Government of India, IOA, NSFs (National Sports Federations) and I feel this is a situation where the best needs to be taken out of the worst,” he said.

“Few sports like hockey, weightlifting and athletics have already started and shooting too will begin sometime in mid July. I am in touch with all the NSFs, as well as some athletes and I am optimistic we are on track for Tokyo Olympics in 2021,” he added.

India’s lone individual Olympic gold medallist said a holistic approach is needed to train athletes for the Summer Games. “Olympics is once in four years, and athletes have only one shot at glory, and it’s important to have a holistic approach, use science, use medicine, use technology and engineering in training and that will make a difference,” Bindra said.

Tennis superstar Paes praised Odisha for setting an example of developing talents from the grassroots level

“Most of India’s talent is untouched, and it is great that Odisha has set an example of creating excellence at grassroots level. This is very important,” he said.

“More global events are coming to Odisha and while the state has done fabulously in hosting the Men’s World Cup in 2018 among other events, the programs rolled out to develop grassroots sports in association with corporates is commendable,” he added.