NEW DELHI: Resumption of training has been the hot debate in sports ever since the government allowed for sports facilities and stadiums to be opened, moving into the fourth phase of the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
While the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and the Sports Ministry has said athletes can resume training adhering to safety guidelines, IOA General Secretary Rajeev Mehta said rushing back to training might not be a good idea and his sentiments have now been echoed by some athletes who aren’t too keen to start as yet.
The 2018 Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning shooter Manu Bhaker said that she wouldn’t be going for any camp unless she is convinced that it is truly safe, with the coronavirus pandemic still creative havoc.
“Unless and until they make it extremely compulsory or convince us that it is truly safe, I won’t go for any camp. We have been provided with electronic targets and facilities by SAI, so I have been working on that at home. So unless and until there is some big tournament coming up or if the risk of the virus is truly off, I don’t see any reason to go back to training,” said the eight-time World Cup gold medallist.
The National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) is working on a timeframe that allows for holding a national camp in July at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in the national capital.
Wrestler Pooja Dhanda said that they have got an idea on how to train effectively at home. The SAI SOP made it clear that contact sports like wrestling and boxing will only have individual training at camps in the initial stages.
“I feel it’s better to wait at home considering the speed at which this virus is still spreading in the country,” she said.
“Wrestling is a sport where you need a partner to train and its constant contact and that is not allowed in the initial stages. Individual training is exactly what we are doing at home anyhow, so I don’t see any reason to take the risk of going outside all the way to the place where a camp may be held.”
Fellow wrestler Divya Kakran said that she will go only if she is convinced that it is safe enough. “If the situation around the virus is safe, then I will go. If not, then even if the lockdown ends, I won’t go,” she said.
“Even if people I know tell me from there that it is safe at the camp, the outside the situation is still bad and there is no solution to the virus, I won’t feel safe to go.”
So far, India has over 125,000 confirmed cases while more than 3700 people have lost their lives.
The IOA itself has been split about the safety of the resumption of training. While President Narinder Batra has been pushing the Sports Ministry to allow for the resumption of training, the association’s Secretary General believes that training shouldn’t start as of now as the COVID-19 cases are increasing at a rapid rate with each passing day in the country.
“It is being predicted that COVID-19 will peak in June. Despite lockdown restrictions, cases are increasing day by day. So in such a scenario, what’s the rush to start training of the athletes?” Mehta said.
“Athletes are assets of our country and it is our responsibility to provide safety to them. Some of the athletes have even qualified for the Olympics and they will be participating in the Tokyo Games without a doubt,” he added.
SAI, on its part, has made it clear in its SOP that it should not be made compulsory for athletes or coaches to attend the camps if they don’t feel safe.