The Indian Olympic Association on Wednesday decided to ask the Sports Ministry to allow national campers undergo outdoor training inside major sports centres in the country by following necessary precautions during the lockdown and after that.
All sports activities have been stopped due to COVID-19-forced nationwide lockdown which has been extended till May 3 and the athletes are barred from any outdoor training even inside their facilities. They have to follow the social distancing guidelines of the government strictly. Campers at the NIS-Patiala had already written to the Ministry requesting to allow them outdoor training (but inside the facility) in small numbers and different timings in the day so that they can follow social distancing.
“(We will) request SAI and MYAS that there are few SAI centres such as Patiala, Bangalore etc where athletes were training prior to the lockdown. These athletes who are in these centres should be allowed to train and the athletes will respect & follow all required restrictions and protocols,” the IOA said. “Similarly discussion should to be taken up with SAI and MYAS as to how other SAI centres can also be opened for other Olympic Sports by following & respecting all the required restrictions and protocols,” it said after a meeting of the IOA Preparations Committee.
The meeting, held via video conference under the chairmanship of Lalit Bhanot, was attended by IOA President Narinder Batra, Secretary General Rajiv Mehta and Tokyo Olympics Indian contingent Chef De Mission BP Baisya. The meeting attended by 62 representatives from various National Sports Federations agreed that Olympic-bound athletes should train within the country till end of the year in order to avoid any risk to them. “Both the domestic and international calendars are in shut down mode as of now for majority of the sports and such a situation is likely to carry on maybe till end of the year. Most of the international Federations also do not have any competitions lined up till end of the year. All further developments regarding this situation will be monitored regularly and continuously,” IOA President Batra said.
The IOA also agreed that the “decisions on extension of contracts for High Performance Directors, chief/head coaches, coaches and other support staff till 2021 or 2024 needs to done on priority by SAI and the ministry for smooth handling of training for 2021 and thereafter”. “Regarding kitchen and hygiene at SAI centres, all of us respect and acknowledge that this is being monitored strictly by SAI. Our request to SAI and MYAS is that it needs to continue to be monitored, handled vigilantly and strictly. Due to sudden lockdown, few NSFs have their equipment (eg Sailing Federation) left outside india and assistance is required from MYAS & SAI for it to be got back to India as soon as possible.”
The IOA top brass also took stock of the implications of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Indian athletes who have qualified are young in age, it will give them more time to train, gain more experience and confidence to perform better in 2021,” it said as an advantage of the Games being postponed. On the disadvantages of the postponement, it said, “Athletes who have been carrying injuries and who have already matured may find it difficult to carry on for another year under extreme conditions. Some Athletes have already taken maximum load to peak in 2020, they may find it difficult to sustain for another year and may risk injuries.”
Target Olympic Podium Scheme CEO Rajesh Rajagopalan also took part in the virtual meeting. More than 70 Indian athletes have so far qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which has been rescheduled for July 23 to August 8 next year.