The Boxing Federation of India plans to restart camp training for its Olympic-bound boxers from June 10, bringing both men and women together in Patiala amid strict COVID-19 safety guidelines which bar access to ring and human sparring for now.
This was decided at a video conference between the Olympic-bound boxers, who have made the cut for the Tokyo Games, BFI Executive Director R K Sacheti, Vice-President Rajesh Bhandari, High performance Directors Santiago Nieva (men) and Raffaele Bergamasco (women), and chief national coaches C A Kuttappa (men) and Mohammed Ali Qamar (women).
"This is the plan going forward. Boxers were of the view that there is no substitute for formal training at the camp even though they have all done pretty well on their own so far," a federation official told PTI. "The women (who train at Delhi's IG stadium) will also be training at NIS Patiala in a joint camp," he added.
The nine boxers, who have qualified for the Tokyo Games are Amit Panghal (52kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg), M C May Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), and Pooja Rani (75kg).
Of these, Vikas, Manish and Ashish could not attend the call but consented to a resumption on June 10.
"Vikas, in fact, wanted a resumption by June 1 but we explained the situation to him. Barring a couple of girls, nobody else had any apprehension," said a source. The immediate resumption of the camp in the last week of this month was ruled out despite the home ministry allowing opening of sports complexes and stadia.
This was because of the logistical issues, such as inter-state travelling, that might have cropped up due to the ongoing lockdown, which is set to end on May 31. All of the boxers have been training at their respective homes ever since the nationals camps came to a halt in mid-March owing to the virus outbreak, which has caused more than 3,000 deaths in India and wreaked havoc globally.
Boxers have been barred from doing human sparring, told not to enter the ring and use their personal equipment for all forms of training as part of the safety protocol to negate the threat of the virus. They will also be offered cover for COVID-19 in their medical insurance, as per the SOP made by the BFI. The boxers and the federation will also have to sign consent acknowledging the risk of resumption before being allowed back at the SAI centre.
The federation remains optimistic about conducting its national events in the usual window of October-November and has also bagged the hosting rights of the Asian Championships, tentatively planned for December.