Some athletes like Dutee Chand and Amiya Mallick are running on tracks, those in PT Usha’s academy have started jogging. But the elite athletes at Sports Authority of India complexes in Patiala and Bengaluru are still waiting to do so. SAI’s SOP needs to be finalised by sports ministry and various other protocols needs to be in place as per the states’ directives, which according to sports ministry, could take some time.
State guidelines need to be considered before opening. After the centre let states to define their own red and green zones, guidelines too have been redefined. Each state has its own restrictions for sports complexes. SAI would be consulting local authorities before facilities are opened.
For example, facilities in Mumbai or in Chennai might take longer to open because of the severity of the pandemic, while in green zones practice might be possible with immediate effect if the state agrees to, like in Karnataka or Kerala.
Though athletes in NIS Patiala and the Bengaluru SAI centre are itching to step out of their rooms, training will not begin until protocols are in place. SAI’s SOP is expected by Thursday. Given the situation, SAI will not take any chances. Athletics Federation of India and Hockey India have submitted their SOPs but until SAI gives its nod, training won’t start. The country’s top athletes are stuck in Patiala and Bengaluru since the lockdown started and have been requesting the sports minister to allow them to train outdoors.
There are issues of sanitising the sports stadia and complexes inside SAI centres. Logistical issues like letting in maintenance staff, who usually live outside, need to be sorted out. As of now, the centres were managing with people from inside. Authorities need to make sure that certain medical facilities are in order in the centres.