CHENNAI: At a time when the Delhi government has advised everyone to avoid public gathering — shutting down cinema halls, schools and colleges — to tackle the coronavirus, a national shooting event is on. The final trials in order to finalise an Olympic team is being conducted by the National Rifle Association (NRAI), the national shooting governing body, at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in the city.
However, the NRAI said this competition, which commenced on Monday, is being conducted with utmost precaution and the coaches also felt there’s no big cause for concern. “It’s not a large gathering. In each event, there are around five shooters. Everybody is taking utmost precaution, using hand sanitisers and masks,” NRAI secretary Rajiv Bhatia said.
Bhatia admitted they are taking a risk but reasoned that they had to hold the trials (rifle/pistol and shotgun) at the earliest in order to select team for Olympics. According to NRAI, the trials are being conducted in the wake of Indian shooters pulling out of Nicosia World Cup and also the postponement of Delhi World Cup. As per the selection policy, the scores attained by the shooters from those two World Cups would have been taken into account in order to select a team for Tokyo. “It’s not 100 per cent safe. I’m not denying that. But this was important. The elite shooters should be clear in regards to their Olympic preparations,” Bhatia said.
Veteran skeet shooter Mairaj Khan, who is one of the participants, said everything was smooth at the range and he’s actually relieved that he’ll get some match practice. “There are hardly any shooters and also, we are taking precautions. Not doing handshakes is one of them. For me, this event is okay as I have not had a competition for some time now,” he said. One of the coaches also echoed Mairaj’s comments.
Camp called off
The NRAI has called off the national camp for rifle/pistol shooters which was due to be held from April 1 to 15. “We were expecting around 200 shooters and that won’t be safe. So, that will be cancelled,” Bhatia revealed.