Two-time Olympic gold medallist and world 100m champion Yohan Blake sent his good wishes to India as the country battled a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jamaican sprinter, who is a fan of cricket including the Indian Premier League (IPL) team Royal Challengers Bangalore, tweeted about his love and affection for India and urged all its citizens to stay safe.
“Just want to take this time and send my love to India. I have been watching cricket over the years. I have grown to love the country so much. Wonderful people all around,” Blake said in his post he called a ‘letter to India’.
“I am begging everyone to please do what you can to stay safe. I know it will be difficult but imagine if we work together," the 31-year-old Blake, who won his Olympic golds in the 4x100m relays, added.
With a creaking health infrastructure, India is struggling to handle 18 million people infected by COVID-19.
The pandemic has also taken its toll on sporting activities in India, with the majority of the events either getting postponed or cancelled.
IPL 2021, which attracts the world’s top cricketers and is being played inside a biosecure bubble, has faced backlash from the citizens for continuing even as the country grapples with the virus.
A number of cricketers, including Australia’s Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye and Kane Richardson, have left the cash-rich T20 tournament, citing safety concerns.
“We’ve been in a few (bubbles) now, and I feel like this is probably the most vulnerable,” Adam Zampa told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Several Indian Olympic-bound athletes also tested positive for COVID-19 in the past year.
Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh and five of his team-mates caught the novel coronavirus while training in Bengaluru, whereas shooters Rahi Sarnobat, Deepak Kumar and Saurabh Chaudhary also tested positive.
Tokyo-bound wrestler Vinesh Phogat, boxers Ashish Kumar, Simranjit Kaur and Lovlina Borgohain and race walker Priyanka Goswami all contracted the virus. All, however, have recovered.
Earlier this week, seven members of the Indian women’s hockey team tested positive for the virus at the Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru centre.
The Indian government has also prioritised vaccination for athletes taking part at the Tokyo Games.
However, top shooter Manu Bhaker received her first dose of the vaccine on Wednesday at a government hospital in Jhajjar, Haryana.
Although vaccination for citizens above 18 years of age starts from May 1, 19-year-old Manu Bhaker was administered the jab as Olympic-bound athletes are given preference.
Earlier, Tokyo-bound archers were inoculated ahead of their World Cup campaign in Guatemala City while the Indian rowing team also completed its vaccination course.