New episode in coronavirus contagion chronicles

Badminton, boxing, football and much more, the fast-expanding coronavirus outbreak continues to turn the world of sport on its head
South Korea is the region most affected by coronavirus outside China. (Photo| afp)
South Korea is the region most affected by coronavirus outside China. (Photo| afp)

CHENNAI: On Wednesday, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) had made it official that six countries won’t be part of the shooting World Cup to be held in New Delhi next month due to fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak.

Now, it looks like South Korea — which has over 1,700 cases so far, the highest outside China — will join that list. The national shooting federation of South Korea has sought clarification from its Indian counterpart on whether their shooters will be allowed to take part in the competition which is scheduled from March 15-26.

“We believe your federation has a lot of concerns with the outbreak of COVID-19. We are contacting NRAI regarding the outbreak of COVID-19 and the position of India on visitors from Korea,” Yongjae Lee, Korea Shooting Federation secretary-general, wrote in a letter addressed to NRAI president Raninder Singh.

The letter claimed that South Korean body had received assurances regarding the same earlier and thus had made flight bookings for all athletes and officials.  

“On February 12, the Organising Committee had notified us, assuring us that the ISSF WC, New Delhi will be conducted as scheduled and is looking forward to receiving our shooting team for the event. We have completed issuing all the visas for delegates and furthermore, finished booking the airline tickets.” 

But with the new travel advisory issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs, it seems all but certain that all those bookings will have to be cancelled. The advisory notes that ‘people coming from the Republic of Korea, China, Iran and Italy may be quarantined for 14 days on arrival to India.’ 

When queried on Thursday, NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia conceded that Korean shooters’ presence is highly unlikely.

“If the Government of India says not to allow them, we are nobody to stop them. We will take steps as per the direction of the government,” Bhatia told this daily.

“The travel advisory clearly states that they have to be quarantined for 14 days. So even if they come, it won’t make sense. It’s a disaster but we are unable to do much.” 

A total of 41 Korean shooters are due to participate as per the NRAI entry list. If they don’t land in Delhi, that could mean that they could miss out on the Minimum Qualification Score (MQS).

As the name suggests, the MQS is minimum score an athlete must attain in a set timeframe in order to be eligible for Olympics.

“Most of the Korean shooters are looking to acquire MQS at the World Cup. However, there is a great deal of concern and worries among athletes and officials that they might not be able to participate,” Lee wrote.

Sports Minister plays down scare
India’s sports minister Kiren Rijiju shot down these concerns over the Olympics stating that India is geared up to send their largest-ever contingent for the Games.

“The virus is in China, not Tokyo. The world is a community and we have to support each other and fight the situation together. I expect the Tokyo Olympics to start on time and we will send a large contingent for the same,” Rijiju said on Thursday.

AIBA cancels European forum 
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) on Thursday cancelled the European leg of its continental forum in Italy, citing the coronavirus outbreak in that country.

The forum was scheduled to be held on Saturday in Assisi, where the Indian boxing team is participating in a preparatory camp for next month’s Olympic qualifiers in Jordan.

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The New Indian Express