Athletes reporting back to training at Sports Authority of India's centres of excellence are being provided with air and train tickets with some of them being allowed to join after Diwali due to the situation arising out of COVID-19 pandemic. The SAI has made transport arrangements for the athletes travelling to their respective national centre of excellence. "Athletes who have to travel beyond 500 km are provided with an air ticket while those who are stationed less than 500 km may travel by train in 3rd AC," SAI said in a statement on Thursday.
With Tokyo and Paris Olympics in mind, a vast majority of athletes have resumed training at SAI's centres of excellence after months of inactivity due to the pandemic. Athletes joining the camps will be in mandatory quarantine and take the RT-PCR test. "For athletes training for 2024 Olympics, 96 percent of trainees have already reported to their respective SAI NCOEs and Training centres in Aurangabad, Bhopal, Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow, Rohtak and Sonepat," SAI said.
Trainees, once inside the NCOE bio-bubble will not be allowed to leave the camps, owing to safety issues. Therefore, athletes were given the option of joining on Nov 1, 2020 or after Diwali. "Our Tokyo-bound athletes are already training and I am happy that in this phase too so many athletes have also joined the camp," sports minister Kiren Rijiju said. "This shows that athletes have complete confidence in the SOP prepared by SAI to resume sporting activities and have therefore reported to training camps with great eagerness. The safety of our athletes is of primary importance and all measures will be taken to ensure they can train in a safe environment."
Some trainees could not join immediately and will be reporting to their respective SAI centres after Diwali. As per union health ministry guidelines and state health protocol, elaborate safety measures have been put in place, including colour coding and zoning of the centres to ensure that athletes do not come into contact with outsiders. Efforts have been made to ensure that athletes have a safe environment to reside and train in.
Additionally, the nodal sports body's authorities reached out to all athletes and their parents to apprise them about the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are in place which have to be followed prior to and after joining the SAI centres. "Athletes and parents who have been contacted have been positive about the measures that are in place for themselves and their kin," SAI said in the statement.