CHENNAI: Recent developments at NIS Patiala — two Olympic-bound boxers were found to be breaching quarantine protocols and a team doctor tested positive — have instilled a sense of fear and anxiety among authorities wishing to resume training for athletes. Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), one of the biggest employers for athletes in the country, is one among them. Indian Railways employs athletes from 30 sports. Apart from 16 divisions, nine production units of Railways have teams that compete in various zonal and national events.
Given the fact that it has the largest pool of international and national players, there were calls from various disciplines to at least resume basic training for athletes. However, incidents at the SAI Centre in Patiala have forced the authorities concerned to wait a bit longer before resuming training at any level.
RSPB secretary Premchand Lochab admitted the board is not in a hurry to resume camps.
“We are releasing our national and international players who are part of national camps on request of Sports Authority of India (SAI). SAI started a camp for boxers in Patiala, but a few issues cropped up there. So we are waiting for more clarity. We don’t want to endanger lives of athletes, who themselves are not very keen on resumption,” Lochab told this daily.
The official said shifting railway sportspersons from their respective camps will be a herculean task, and that it can be done only when normalcy returns. “Shifting such a large number of athletes to camp venues is not easy. They then have to be quarantined as per the safety protocols and guidelines. And if one gets positive during this process, others might get affected. The plan is to start at the earliest but without taking any risk. We are waiting for more clarity and then act accordingly,” he added.
Online classes for wrestlers
SAI and Wrestling Federation of India have been conducting online classes for wrestlers for the past few months. A camp for railway wrestlers was proposed in Mumbai in March, but it was cancelled. Now railway coaches want the board to hold online classes for grapplers like SAI. They forwarded a request in this regard to the board. “The wrestlers are confined to their homes since March. Online classes will be a good way to keep them fit and motivated. They will also help coaches stay in touch with wards,” said a coach. RSPB is expected to take a call soon. The coaches believe classes might start in August.