CHENNAI: The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has decided to not let athletes go home. If someone intends to leave, he or she will not be allowed back. Though Hockey India has allowed the national men's and women's teams to leave the Bengaluru camp, the AFI doesn’t want its athletes leave camps in NIS Patiala, SAI Bengaluru and Ooty, as of now.
The logic is simple. Since the government is lifting the lockdown, the federation would like to continue with the training schedule after losing more than two months due to Covid-19 restrictions. AFI president Adille Sumariwalla felt since training has resumed, it would be prudent for athletes to continue.
Moreover, unlike athletics, hockey is a sport with a high possibility of physical contact. “We want to keep our athletes safe and we don’t want to take any risk,” said the AFI chief. “If they go home, we are quite clear that we won’t take them back because we don’t want to compromise the health of other athletes who are in the camp. Even if they join, they will have to be quarantined for 14 days.
“We are in touch with our athletes and we talk to them every day. We brief them about what’s going to happen. No one has asked for permission. Only a few left the camp because of personal reasons. They will have to follow the protocol when they join,” said Sumeriwalla. “You can train online but not beyond a point. Physical training for athletes cannot be done.”
A top official of AFI said the national calendar is on schedule and will begin with the Indian Grand Prix on September 12 followed by National Open Athletics on September 20 in Chennai. So the athletes need to get into shape before that.
Only weightlifter Jeremy Lalrinnunga left Patiala because he was homesick. The 17-year-old reached Aizawl on June 17 and has been quarantined at a government centre where he can continue training. He will have to be quarantined on return to Patiala. Other eight lifters are still in the camp.