The Badminton Association of India (BAI) has written to the Olympic Association of India (IOA) seeking approval for four coaches and two physios, including chief national coach Pullela Gopichand, to accompany the Indian badminton contingent for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Tokyo will have the best chance of winning a medal in badminton and a letter in this regard was sent to the IOA on Monday, which mentions a six-member support team with four players,” a BAI source said on condition of anonymity. Head coach Gopichand’s name is also there.
Rio Olympic silver medalist PV Sindhu, World Championship bronze medalist B Sai Praneeth and world number 10 men’s doubles pair of Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty have qualified for the Tokyo Games to be held from July 23.
According to the rules, the number of officials traveling for the Olympics cannot exceed one-third of the number of players. Although the Sports Ministry may approve additional officers, the government will not bear their expenses.
Before writing a letter to the IOA, the BAI wanted to know the views of the Indian players who have qualified for the Olympics. Under Gopichand’s guidance, India won bronze and silver medals in the last two Olympics in London and Rio de Janeiro. The head coach, however, had reportedly said last week that he might not go to Tokyo after this.
During a TV interview, he said, ‘It will be very difficult because only a third of the support staff can accompany the team… I am thinking of not going to Tokyo because I believe that the players are being trained. Coaches should get priority.