First batch of Indian athletes leaves for Tokyo Paralympics amid warm send-off
New Delhi: The first batch of Indian athletes for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics, including flag bearer Thangavelu Mariyappan left for the Games on Wednesday amid a warm send-off.
The eight-member group was accorded a send-off at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by officials of Sports Ministry, Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Paralympic Committee of India (PCI).
Along with Mariyappan, Tek Chand and Vinod Kumar were the other two athletes that took the early morning flight to Tokyo.
“The entire country, including the honourable prime minister and sports minister, are cheering for us today. Every athlete who is going to take part in the Paralympics is already a winner and I wish all of them good luck,” said PCI president Deepa Malik while addressing the contingent.
For the first time, accessible vehicles were provided by Svayam India, PCI’s accessibility partners, for the commuting of wheelchair-bound athletes.
“These accessible vehicles are customised for the needs of not only our athletes but also for all people with reduced mobility. Our players are our pride and they have every right to travel with dignity,” said Sminu Jindal, founder of Svayam India.
These accessible vehicles were used by athlete Tek Chand who travelled from Rewari, Haryana and by Malik, who reached the airport from Noida.
Another contingent of 14 members, including the president of PCI, will leave for the Japanese capital on Wednesday evening.
The Paralympics Games will begin in a week’s time on August 24. India will start their campaign from August 25 with para table tennis where Bhavina Patel and Sonal Patel will be in action.