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All Olympics-bound Indian athletes are fit, says IOA chief medical officer Pardiwala

Members of the Indian contingent for the Paris Olympic Games participate in an event with P.T. Usha, Union Ministers Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, and Hardeep Singh Puri Hon’ble on Sunday, 30th June, 2024 in New Delhi
| Photo Credit: Shashi Shekhar Kashyap

A 13-member team, led by Dr. Pardiwala, would provide medical assistance to the Indian contingent in the areas of injury management, sports nutrition, mental conditioning, sports massage, recovery and sleep

Renowned sports medicine expert Dr. Dinshaw Pardiwala on July 6 said that all the Indian athletes participating in the Paris Olympics, including ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, were “fit enough” to perform on the big stage when the quadrennial showpiece gets underway on July 26.

Dr. Pardiwala, the chief medical officer (CMO) of the nearly 120-strong Indian contingent for the Paris Games, said that his 13-member team would render the best possible medical assistance to the contingent in the areas of injury management, sports nutrition, mental conditioning, sports massage, recovery and sleep.

“All the athletes that are going for the Olympics are fit right now. Some athletes will have minor niggles here and there. I am not going to be discussing any specific injuries to any athlete that they’ve had in the past, but all of them who are there are there because they are going to be capable and they’re going to be fit enough to perform,” he said.

Dr. Pardiwala has treated some of the top athletes, including India wicketkeeper-batter Rishabh Pant, who suffered serious injuries during a car crash, and Tokyo Games silver medallist weightlifter Mirabai Chanu.

The Indian Olympic Association, Sports Ministry and the Sports Authority of India have brought together a team of top medical experts, headed by Dr. Pardiwala, to give the best rest and recovery facilities to athletes as they bid to better the seven-medal haul at the Tokyo Olympics. “This is the first time the Indian athletes will have a recovery room and a preparational rehabilitation room to make them game ready,” said Dr. Pardiwala.

In the past, athletes had to visit a common polyclinic for approximately 10,000 competitors to avail physiotherapy and recovery services, and getting slots was time-consuming. But this time around, the 13-member medical team will take care of those aspects so that the athletes only focus on their events and “not waste time” thinking about rest and recovery.

“It will be open 24×7. We’ve also got a sleep therapist on board because, over the years, one of the concerns has been inadequate sleep for rest and recovery. Time zones are different, and the pressures and anxiety are there. So, to ensure athletes don’t land up with inadequate sleep, we’ve got a sleep therapist on board who will address all these concerns,” he said. “We’ve already started sleep therapy sessions and we are also going to have some sleep pods for helping our athletes on the sleep aspect,” he said.

Several athletes have personal physios, mental trainers and nutritionists, and Dr. Pardiwala said for those who cannot take their support staff to Paris, his team had already coordinated with them and will help them in every possible way.

“Ever since the sports science team was announced, the first thing we have done is start knowing our athletes in three different aspects — sports medicine, sports nutrition and mental conditioning. We have visited national camps, competitions etc to know their needs better.”

With warm weather expected during the Games and the Paris Olympics not promoting air-conditioning in the Athletes’ Village, there is a genuine concern about rest and recovery of the athletes. Dr. Pardiwala said, “Yes, there is not going to be air-conditioning per se supplied by the organisers in the Village. Their main issue is they want it to be a green Olympics, and if we want it to be a green Olympics, then we don’t want air-conditioning to be there because that is not environmentally friendly.

“Several contingents have said ‘our athletes are used to temperature-controlled environments’. They (Paris organisers) have a sort of geo-thermal system where there will be a temperature within the Village of at least 5-7 degrees less than the ambient temperature. And the expected temperature in Paris is supposed to be between 18 and 26 degrees C. If ambient temperature is 5-6 degrees less, I think it’s going to be quite okay,” he reasoned.

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