The first set of Indian athletes to participate in the upcoming Paralympics in Tokyo, including the flag bearer Thangavelu Mariyappan, left for the Games on Wednesday amid a warm send-off.
Officials from the Ministry of Sport, the Sports Authority of India (SAI), and the Paralympic Committee of India sent the eight-member group to the Indira Gandhi International Airport (PCI).
Tek Chand and Vinod Kumar, together with Mariyappan, were the other two sportsmen who departed for Tokyo early in the morning.
“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.
Svayam India, PCI’s accessibility partners for the commuting of wheelchair-bound athletes provided accessible vehicles for the first time.
“These accessible vehicles are customized 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.
Athlete Tek Chand who travelled from Rewari, Haryana, and Malik arrived from Noida Airport used these accessible vehicles.
Another 14-member contingent, including the PCI president, will leave on Wednesday evening to the Japanese capital.
The highly anticipated Paralympics will commence from August 24. India will begin its campaign on August 25 with Bhavina Patel and Sonal Patel in action for the para table tennis competition.