CHENNAI: Stuck in Georgia since the second week of March, India’s top judoka Jasleen Singh Saini is expected to fly out for Mumbai on June 26. In compliance with the rules put in place in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Saini has to serve a 14- day mandatory quarantine period in the commercial capital before boarding a flight for his native state Punjab.
“Indian Embassy here in Tbilisi informed me about the repatriation flight scheduled from Georgia on June 26. They also informed me about the mandatory quarantine period,” the 22-year-old athlete told this daily.
“I have spoken to my parents about the available option. They are a bit worried as Mumbai has been witnessing a huge number of coronavirus cases every day. However, I feel I have to take the risk as the situation is unlikely to improve in the near future.” Apart from safety, Saini is also worried about the financial aspect of the travel.
“The flight will cost me around Rs 40,000. Besides, I was told that I would have to bear the cost while being in quarantine.” Saini’s Georgia trip is funded by Inspire Institute of Sport, a part of JSW Group.
“I will tell them about the expenses I have to incur and seek some help, if possible.” The 66kg judoka was preparing for the Olympics along with his Georgian coach Mamuka Kizilashvili when the lockdown led to closure of training halls in Tbilisi. He then shifted to his coach’s place in Akhmeta, a two-hour drive from the capital city.
“The coach and his family have been looking after me well. The best part is that I can train every day under his watchful eyes, which would not have been possible had I been in India. But it’s almost three months since I am stranded at the place. Even the quadrennial event has been postponed by a year. The coach has left the decision on me,” the 2019 Commonwealth Championship gold medallist added.
Had the Tokyo Olympics been held in time, the Gurdaspur judoka would have made the cut. The top 10 judokas (point-wise) from each continent were supposed to qualify. Saini, currently World No 56, is ninth in Asia.