Express News Service
CHENNAI: In a big relief for athletes, especially those still stuck at NIS Patiala and SAI Centre Bengaluru, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday permitted sports complexes and stadia to open but sans spectators. Elite athletes and weightlifters are stranded in Patiala due to the nationwide lockdown, while the men’s and women’s hockey teams are stranded in Bengaluru.
Officials and coaches believe there are a few grey areas that need to be cleared before trainees are allowed outside. Both the centres have synthetic tracks for athletics and turf for hockey. The SAI is expected to examine the order in detail and seek clarification from MHA if required, before arriving at a decision on resumption of outdoor training. It is understood that top SAI officials and the ministry would sit and decide on the modalities after getting more clarifications from the MHA regarding classification of the sports complexes. According to a coach, there should be clarity on what kind of training would be permitted. However, resumption of sports activities depends on the state government restrictions and guidelines.
Athletics Federation of India had already been requesting SAI to allow athletes to train outside hostels. This will give them an opportunity to train in small groups of three or four. Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI president, did not want to say much until there is more clarity. “I am waiting to hear from the sports ministry,” he said. “We have framed guidelines that would ensure social-distancing during practice. We will not compromise the health of athletes.”
The AFI has already suggested that two-three athletes can train in alternate lanes. Hockey India too has submitted its SOP on training. The SAI drafted the standard operating procedure (SOP) for phased resumption of training across sports at all its centres.
Wrestling camp may begin
The order will also enable Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to plan resumption of national camps. “We will seek clarification from SAI before taking a final call. We have selected wrestlers for the first phase. We have proposed to keep them in quarantine for 14 days after joining the camp. Let’s see what SAI decides,” said Vinod Tomar, WFI’s assistant secretary.
A total of 36 wrestlers (15 male and as many female freestyle grapplers, and six Greco-Roman grapplers) have been selected for the first phase of camps. Six coaches and three support staff will be a part of the camp. Only those wrestlers who compete in Olympic categories have been selected for this phase.
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