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SAI issues fresh SOPs amid spike in COVID cases

Athletes will be required to undergo Rapid Antigen Test upon arrival at national camps and training centres

SAI issues fresh SOPs amid spike in COVID cases

Sports Authority of India



Updated: 5 Jan 2022 1:13 PM GMT

Athletes will be required to undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) upon arrival at national camps and training centres, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said on Wednesday as it came up with a slew of measures to combat the renewed threat posed by COVID-19. Unlike the latest guidelines, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that SAI had issued before the Tokyo Olympics last year, required an athlete to take an RT-PCR test within 72 hours before arrival at camp with a negative report.

The SAI has issued the fresh SOPs to deal with the drastic rise in the positive cases, mostly owing to the Omicron variant, across the country. These measures will be strictly implemented at the various National Centres of Excellence (NCOE) as well as the ongoing national coaching camps. Upon arrival to the training centres, all athletes will undergo mandatory Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). "If the test comes negative, they will train and dine separately until the sixth day of joining. A repeat of the RAT would take place on the fifth day," SAI stated in a press release.

"The ones who get a positive result would undergo a RTPCR test and be treated in isolation, while the athletes testing negative would continue normal training," it added. Proper isolation facilities are being earmarked for COVID positive or symptomatic athletes across the camps and the facilities would be sanitised twice a day. There will also be a micro bio-bubble, where the athletes will be divided into small groups for training and dining. The athletes have also been strictly asked to avoid interacting with other groups.

Besides, random testing of athletes, coaches, support staff and non-residential staff in the NCOE will be carries out once every 15 days. "It has also been recommended that athletes would be participating in only those competitions recommended by the respective National Sports Federations (NSFs) and the SAI HQ officials," the nodal sports body said in a release. "For invitational tournaments and non-Olympic qualifying events, recommendations would be made by the respective Regional Directors (RDs) of the NCOEs." It is also to be noted that guidelines from the respective state governments will supersede these SOPs in those particular states, SAI stated.

Last year, few national camps were disrupted owing to breakout of COVID cases, including boxing in Patiala and New Delhi, and camps in Bhopal and Bengaluru, where the hockey teams were training. A stricter SOP was announced after as many as 24 sportspersons and 12 support staff members tested positive for the virus at the SAI's Bhopal centre. Before that, in 2020, several men's freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestlers had tested positive for the virus after reporting to a national camp at the SAI Sonepat centre.

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