Star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra says he is keeping himself busy with workouts at gym and some movie-watching during self-isolation at NIS Patiala, urging the country to behave responsibly in its fight to contain the COVID-19 pandemic for the sake of its poor. Chopra, who has qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, has been ordered by Sports Authority of India (SAI) to remain self-isolated for 14 days after returning from a training stint in Turkey.
“I am not training at all. The gates of this hostel meant for those who have come back from foreign training have been locked. Not allowed to go anywhere but we are given an old gym to do some workout to keep ourselves fit,” Chopra told PTI on phone from Patiala. “I am enjoying my spare time listening to music, speaking on phone with family and friends, and reading a bit also. Sometimes, I watch movies on my laptop.” Chopra urged fellow Indians to take the dreaded coronavirus outbreak seriously and follow the guidelines issued by the authorities.
“People should take this pandemic seriously and follow guidelines. They should do this voluntarily like the Prime Minister’s Janata curfew. Countries in Europe are very small and they have better medical services but they are facing a huge crisis,” he reasoned. “Our country is much bigger with a lot of poor people. If our country reaches the stage 3 (of the spread of pandemic) it may really have a devastating effect. We should try and contain the disease before that happens. So, each one of us should be a responsible citizen and try to maintain social distancing.”
The 22-year-old Asian and Commonwealth Games champion from a village near Panipat in Haryana said he’s is having no trouble following the government guidelines in wake of the pandemic, which has claimed over 13,000 lives globally. “I could not have been at home and remained isolated for 14 days because there, I would have mixed up with family. Here, I can be alone, so I am trying to enjoy my time. Moreover, as an athlete it is good to follow rules and be a responsible citizen,” he added.
Chopra said the “forced leisure time” is a completely different experience for him. “This is a completely different leisure time, not mixing with anybody, away from the world outside,” he said. Asked what precautions he has been taking in the last few days, he said, “I am washing hands frequently, using sanitizers after touching any object and keeping myself clean. If somebody wants to speak to me, he has to first use the sanitiser and speak to me from at least 5m away. It is something new which I have not done. But these are extraordinary times. Whiile training in Turkey, there was no fear about coronavirus as it (pandemic) had just begun (in other parts of world outside China). Turkey had few cases then, but it has changed suddenly in the last few days.”