India pulls out of top women's squash event in Malaysia citing safety concerns, lack of preparation

Although players in Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru have resumed training, cities like Delhi and Mumbai are yet to open courts for practice

Published: 03rd August 2020 02:12 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th August 2020 09:27 AM   |  A+A-

SRFI new general-secretary Cyrus Poncha

SRFI secretary-general Cyrus Poncha (Photo| Twitter/ HCL Entreprise)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: India on Monday withdrew from the Women's World Team Squash Championship scheduled to be held from December 15 to 20 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Considering that the deadline for submitting entries is August 15, the Squash Rackets Federation of India (SRFI) had requested the World Squash Federation (WSF) for an extension of the date due to the pandemic situation in the country. With the request being denied from WSF, the Indian squash body decided to pull out of the tournament, citing "uncertainties regarding guidelines for the safe
travel of our athletes and staff, coupled with lack of preparation time and match readiness of athletes."

SRFI's secretary-general, Cyrus Poncha, reiterated that safety and security of the players and staff are of utmost priority. "I spoke with the top players. It was their view that at this point of time we cannot commit to participation in the event," Cyrus told The New Indian Express. "For us also, not knowing what is in store in the next month or two, we felt that it's best that we don't participate in the event if it happens. It's still not guaranteed that the event will happen as per schedule."

Although players in Chennai, Kolkata and Bengaluru have resumed training, cities like Delhi and Mumbai are yet to open courts for practice. With the pandemic also showing no signs of slowing — the country's coronavirus tally rose to 18 lakh — SRFI feels it is not possible to conduct any training camp for the next two months.

"Travelling is the most important factor. Not everybody is comfortable getting on an aeroplane right now. For the next two months, I don't see any training camp or tournament happening in our country," added the secretary-general.

Asian junior event called off

The 27th Asian Junior Individual Championships in Qingdao, China, has been cancelled by the Asian Squash Federation due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event was originally slated to begin on June 29 and was then postponed to December this year.

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