The Sports Authority of India has allowed non-residential athletes to train at its National Centre of Excellence (NCOEs). They will be required to strictly follow all COVID-19 protocols in order to protect the bio-bubble made for the country’s Tokyo Olympic-bound sportspersons.
“As all are aware the training of National Centre of Excellence (NCOEs) has resumed and the athletes are gradually shaping up to the expected level. “In this regard it has come to the notice of the competent authority that non-residential athletes of the NCOEs are deprived training due to obligations of maintaining the bio-bubble,” a letter issued by Regional Director (Operations) of SAI, Shiv Sharma, read. The letter, which is in possession of PTI, stated that the regional heads and NCOE in-charges have the discretion to allow talented non-residential athletes to train at staggered timings and by following all COVID-19 protocols.
“The regional heads/NCOE in-charges may allow non-residential athletes at their discretion to train inside the campus on residential basis with immediate effect. “Talented young national level athletes of come and play scheme or NCOE non-residential athletes may also be allowed to practice at staggered timings in consultation with their respective coaches.
“It is reiterated that all safety procedures have to be followed to ensure the safety of athletes against COVID-19.” Meanwhile, Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) chief executive officer, Cdr Rajesh Rajagopalan issued a separate advisory for Indian athletes due to participate in domestic and international competitions. With COVID-19 cases witnessing a spike across the world, Rajagopalan advised the National Sports Federations (NSFs) and athletes to take maximum caution while on tours.
“With the Olympics fast approaching and with the resumption and domestic calendar post relaxation of COVID restrictions worldwide, it has become imperative to send the athletes/ national teams for participation in these tournaments/events to aid in their preparation for the Olympics. “However, it has been noticed that there has been a surge in COVID positive cases detected among the athletes returning to their training bases after participation in these exposures,” Rajagopalan said.
Various parts of India, especially the western state of Maharashtra, have also seen a surge in recent weeks. “While the importance of participating in these exposure tours cannot be denied, it is imperative that we exercise due diligence and take all necessary precautions while sending athletes outside their training base to minimize the adverse impact.
“With a view to mitigate any further infection to our Olympic bound athletes, it is requested that the Federations may advise all athletes to follow safety protocols issued by the local authorities/organisers during domestic and international competitions and training.” Five Indian hockey players, including skipper Manpreet Singh, had tested COVID positive after returning to their training base in SAI Bengaluru from a break last August. Besides, six shooters have, so far, tested positive for the virus in the ongoing ISSF World Cup in the national capital.