The first batch of the Indian contingent for the Tokyo Olympic Games, including members of the men's and women's hockey teams, world champion shuttler PV Sindhu and the archery team left for Japan late on Saturday.
The batch of 88 included 54 athletes, support staff, and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) representatives. Athletes and support staff from eight sports -- archery, hockey, badminton, table tennis, judo, gymnastics, and weightlifting -- were part of this batch, with the two hockey squads forming the largest chunk.
To ensure the safety of players, entry into the event was only allowed for dignitaries and other officials who had a negative COVID test report.
Considering the COVID-19 pandemic regulations, all athletes had to wear their masks all the time and maintain social distancing.
They were given the formal send off at the Indira Gandhi International Airport by sports minister Anurag Singh Thakur, Minister of State Nisith Pramanik, IOA president Narinder Dhruv Batra and its secretary general Rajeev Mehta.
"When you go to represent the country at the Olympics, it is not just an important moment for you but for the whole country. This has been possible because of your discipline, determination, and dedication and that is why you are here representing Team India," said Thakur.
"I am sure when you are going to be on the field when you are going to be participating, you will be there with your full energy, determination, and motivation. As PM Modi said, please go with a free mind. 135 crore Indians are with you, their good wishes and blessings are with you."
In all, 127 Indian athletes have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which is a record, overhauling the 117 that represented the country at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The shooting, sailing, and rowing reams have already reached Tokyo and some of them have started their practice too.
The athletes who are reaching Tokyo from India will have to undergo three days of extra quarantine as per a decision by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's health department. Apart from India, athletes from 11 other countries have been shortlisted for the extra quarantine as they have a different variant of the Novel Coronavirus in their country.
However, Indian athletes will not have to undergo extra quarantine if they reach Tokyo after spending two weeks or more in a country other than the 12 with a COVID-19 variant.