CHENNAI: In a big development for sportspersons, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has decided to open its National Centre of Excellence (NCOE) for training from October 1 in a phased manner. An announcement in this regard was made by sports minister Kiren Rijiju during a review meeting on Wednesday.
“This is an effort to bring athletes back to on-field training in view of the unlocking of the country. However, keeping in mind the health and safety of athletes and coaches, the Covid-19 situation in the state where the NCOE is located will be considered while finalisation,” said a statement issued by SAI.
To begin with, athletes who are part of the TOPS developmental group, will start training followed by others. The Mission Olympic Cell has already shortlisted 258 athletes in 12 disciplines including the 85 selected before the lockdown for the developmental group.
As many as 20 NCOEs were identified by the ministry last year to groom athletes for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. These centres host all the national camps for senior and junior athletes. Though elite athletes have already started training at NIS Patiala and SAI Bengaluru, the latest announcement means other athletes can join in come October.
According to the SAI statement, the formal induction of the athletes in the developmental group would start after putting in place an effective mechanism to monitor his/her progress in the long run. Performance yardsticks will be established for an athlete for the next four years, in consultation with all stakeholders. Every athlete will also be given a monthly out of pocket allowance of Rs 25,000. It has also been decided in the meeting that the funds extended to all SAI NCOEs will be enhanced.
NIS divided in zones
Meanwhile, in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus, NIS Patiala has been divided into three zones — red, orange and green. Athletes, coaches and support staff will stay in the green zone, while administrative staff will come under the red zone. Those undergoing mandatory quarantine, including two women weightlifters who reached the centre on Wednesday, will stay in the orange zone. Occupants of each zone have been issued separate badges to keep a check on movement. It was learnt that two health department officials at the centre recently tested positive. They didn’t come in contact with the athletes and coaches.