A full training camp for boxers is likely to start on August 1 at the National Institute of Sport (NIS) in Patiala, according to men's boxing High Performance Director Santiago Nieva. NIS allowed for the boxers to return to the facility and on Friday, the first batch consisting of 13 men and three women arrived.
While boxers were sent away to their respective homes before the first lockdown was declared on March 25, Nieva has been stuck at NIS for three months now. Uncertainty over how he would get to his native Sweden and how he would get back to India in time for a national camp, whenever it was held, meant that Nieva ended up staying put in Patiala.
"I have not seen my wife and daughters for six months. They were supposed to come in March but that was not possible and I was supposed to go there in May or June which was also not possible," Nieva told IANS. "But this is a very extreme situation and we just have to (deal) with it. At some point this will hopefully end and I will be able to go."
Nieva said that there have been conversations with the BFI about potentially going back home. "But the situation was very difficult. There were no flights and we also wanted to start the camp in June. I want to start the camp before I go over there because it is possible that once I go I won't be able to return," he said.
While his wards are trickling back into the facility, Nieva cannot meet any of them yet as they have to first go through their mandatory self-isolation period. "Before the lockdown we sent all the boxers home. Now the boxers are coming back, the first batch of 13 men and three women have arrived. I cannot meet any of them for the next one week at least. There are more to come in the coming weeks," he said.
In keeping with the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the resumption of training, the boxers arriving at NIS are those in the mix for the Tokyo Olympics.
"For more people to join and get ready it will take a minimum of two weeks. So I would be very happy if we can start a camp by August 1. We believe that we should be able to start something before August 1 maybe even from July 15.
"But I know that (the situation is such that) you say one date and then the next week, it gets changed. So I won't speculate on the dates. We will try to get them all here in the next two three weeks but it's okay if that is also postponed by one or two weeks because there is no urgency. There are no competitions right now so we have time. But yes, if they are here by August 1 it will be good," he said.
Contact training between the pugilists seems an unlikely prospect for the foreseeable future. SAI's SOP states that sparring and even use of a ring will not be permitted. However, considering the fact that Nieva believes the first thing they would need to do is get the boxers down to their normal weights, the lack of sparring is not a big worry at the moment.
"The biggest thing is that some boxers have gained weight. They are above their normal weight which is expected in this sport. So we will have to get them to come down to their proper weight first. As I said, there is a lot of time so no urgency of any kind," he said.