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Mariyappan in quarantine, Tek Chand to be India’s flag-bearer at Paralympics opening

Mariyappan Thangavelu has been sent in quarantine and so Tek Chand will be India’s flag-bearer at the Paralympics opening ceremony. Photo: IOC

Tokyo, Aug 24 (MNN) High jumper Mariyappan Thangavelu will not be part of the Indian contingent for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics on Tuesday as he is in quarantine after coming in close contact with a COVID-positive fellow passenger during his flight to the Japanese capital.

However, the 26-year old from Salem district of Tamil Nadu has been tested for six days and has returned negative reports. He is in quarantine at the Games Village as per Japanese government health protocols.

The Tokyo Paralympics organising committee advised Indian officials to take Mariyappan off from the opening ceremony as a precautionary measure.

Mariyappan has been replaced by shot-putter Tek Chand as India’s flag-bearer for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics opening ceremony.

Six officials and five para-athletes from India were expected to take part in the opening ceremony. Now only nine members of the contingent, of which only Tek Chand is a para-shot putter, will attend the ceremony.

Discus throw athlete Vinod Kumar — who was to take part in the Tokyo Paralympics opening ceremony as well — has also been found to be in close contact with a COVID-positive person. However, both Mariyappan Thangavelu and Vinod Kumar will be able to take part in their respective events.

Mariyappan won the gold medal in men’s high jump T-42 category at the 2016 Rio Paralympics and bronze in men’s high jump T-63 event at the 2019 World Para Athletics Championships. He was also India’s flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Para Games in Jakarta.

Tek Chand hails from a farming family in Rewari district of Haryana. The 37-year old won bronze in men’s shot put at the 2018 Asian Para Games and silver at the 2018 World Para Athletics Grand Prix.

After an accident at work in 2005, Tek Chand sustained a spinal cord injury and was paralysed. He began practising javelin throw and shot put as a para athlete in 2015 after hearing about the Para Games from a friend.

His training regime at the Rao Tularam Stadium in Rewari involves up to 200 throws a day. Tek Chand is also a coach with the Haryana state government’s department of sports and youth affairs.

India are being represented by 54 athletes at the Tokyo Paralympics, the country’s biggest contingent at the Summer Games.

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