IOA to trial battery-operated masks for Olympic-bound athletes


Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is set to bring in battery-powered face masks in order to allow athletes to resume training but remain safe from the coronavirus threat.

IOA is set to trial the masks for the Tokyo Olympics.

The special masks will have two valves and an N95 filter to help the athletes breathe properly.

Best in ensuring optimum oxygen for the wearer, battery-operated masks designed by an IIT-Kharagpur alumni will be put on trial for India’s Olympic-bound athletes by the IOA to assist their intense training.

The IOA has tied up with IIT Kharagpur’s Piyush Agarwal, who currently owns a startup ‘PQR Technology Private Limited’ and has got government funding under the ‘KAWACH Mask Project’. His start-up is currently attached with IIT Delhi.

The brand name of the mask is ‘Moksha’.

IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said that the battery-operated masks, which cost around Rs 2200 each, will be trialled first on a few Olympic-bound athletes.

If they don’t face any breathing issues and after approval from the IOA Medical Commission, the masks will then be used by all the Olympic-bound athletes and others.

“I was initially very guarded about resumption of training by athletes but since the athletes have started training and we don’t know when this pandemic will end, we have to think about the best way possible and this idea of masks which seems safe for intensive training struck us,” Mehta said.

“If the athletes feel comfortable in the trial, we will order 1000 masks initially. We are hoping to give the masks to 10-15 athletes initially for trial. We will start the trial in 10 days,” he added.

The training for most sports has resumed across the country but the athletes have been told to avoid intense workouts or regimens to avoid the risk of coronavirus infection.

Indian Olympic Association will be looking to implement these masks for next year’s Olympics. 

The masks will be carried by the athletes in a pouch when not in use. Each mask has two respiratory valves with a fan on both sides. The fans are soundless.

The batteries can be tied to the waist or arms of the athletes through a cord. Once charged, they will last eight hours.

“A normal human being requires 8 litres of air but an athlete, during training, needs 15-20 litres. These masks will allow maximum oxygen for inhalation and so they should not face any problem” 

The Secretary-General of IOA is hopeful that this mask will be given to come athletes for trial by 2nd October. He also notified that initially 20 masks will be given to the IOA for trying it out with some athletes.

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