Kiren Rijiju has said Indian athletes will be prioritised for a COVID-19 vaccine ©Getty Images

Indian Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has stated that athletes heading to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and their support staff will be given priority for a COVID-19 vaccine when one is available.

Rijiju said the country is set to send its largest contingent to the postponed Games, which are currently scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8 next year.

"Whether it is Tokyo Olympics or any big event happening, the preference will be given to Olympic-bound athletes as well as the staff because it is time-bound," said Rijiju, according to the Hindustan Times.

"Our athletes will be given preference and we will work it out with the Health Ministry.

"We will ensure that all the international participants and organisers are given due importance in all the mechanisms to ensure their safety and security." 

Rijiju said he now wants to focus on national and international events in the coming months, while building up to Olympic qualification events.

"Olympic qualification matches are going to happen," he added.

"So, I want more sporting events to take place now, of course, while following all safety measures.

India has more than 100 athletes already qualified for Tokyo 2020, including the women's hockey team ©Getty Images
India has more than 100 athletes already qualified for Tokyo 2020, including the women's hockey team ©Getty Images

"I have already told national sports federations and the Indian Olympic Association to chalk out plans for different national and international events in India and we are giving full support."

Rijiju also stressed that quarantine rules will be relaxed for international events held in India.

"If international players are quarantined for 14 days, it becomes difficult for the organisers to organise the events," he added.

"Nobody will come if you are going to put the athletes for 14 days in India.

"So we have to manage these things so that we can support international athletes who are coming to India as well as our own players."

More than 100 athletes from India have qualified for Tokyo 2020 already, and the nation will look to surpass its record contingent from Rio 2016 when 117 Indian athletes competed.