With the COVID-19 wreaking havoc in the major squash centres of India - Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai - the players might not be able to resume training before September, let alone playing tournaments, according to the Squash Rackets Federation of India.
Though Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has said that tournaments can be organised without spectators from August, SRFI secretary general Cyrus Poncha told PTI that he doesn't see any squash related activity taking place in India before September.
"Three major centres (Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai) happen to be most affected by the virus, it is not a good situation. Considering that, I don't see that we would be in a position to conduct tournaments in September," said Poncha, who was earlier the national coach. He was part of the online meeting the Sports Minister conducted with the national sports federations.
"We have to give the players at least six weeks to train, if not eight weeks, before you get them into competition, otherwise you risk injuries. Three months ago, it looked like we might train in July but we are almost there now and the situation has gotten worse. I am now hoping now we can resume training in August or September," said Poncha.
With more than 70,000 cases, Delhi has the second highest number in the country behind Maharashtra. The capital city has left behind Mumbai, which is inching towards the 70,000 mark, while the numbers in Chennai would soon cross 50,000.
There is also a possibility that the squash facility at the Siri Fort Complex in Delhi might be converted into a dedicated COVID-19 centre. "If that happens, then you could lose another four to five months if not more," added Poncha.
Chennai is home to the Indian Squash Academy while Mumbai produces a lot of players through its rich club culture. The athletes' mental health can be impacted in uncertain times like these. For the same reason, SRFI has been organising online sports psychology classes for the players, the last of which is scheduled next week.