The opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will take place in front of thousands of empty seats on July 23, Friday. This time, due to the onslaught of COVID-19 pandemic, only 1,000 dignitaries will be present in the Olympic Stadium that has a seating capacity of 68,000.
In order to stem the spread of the coronavirus, authorities have placed a ban on public viewing of the sports. The opening ceremony has been planned to prevent crowding, with the parade of nations, a centrepiece of the show, featuring smiling and waving athletes - all reduced.
Participating nations have been told to send small number of athletes to the opening ceremony, fearing the spread of COVID.
As for India, no more than 44 athletes will be taking part in the opening ceremony. "We won't like to create a situation where our athletes are in danger of getting infected. So a decision has been taken to limit the number of athletes and officials participating in the opening ceremony within 50," Indian Olympic Association secretary general Rajeev Mehta told PTI.
In the Tokyo edition, India has sent more than 125 athletes to the Games with the contingent size being 228.
Earlier, deputy chef-de-mission Prem Kumar Verma had said that only six officials from every country have been allowed for the ceremony but there was no cap on the athletes. "However, we have advised the athletes who have events the next day to skip the ceremony and focus on their game," he had said.
Here's a list of Indians who will not be participating in the opening ceremony:
Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma, Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan, Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal, Deepak Kumar and Divyansh Singh Panwar.
While Mary Kom is not scheduled to compete the next day, Manpreet will be the men's hockey team in their first Pool A game against New Zealand on Saturday.