New Delhi: The Sports Authority of India on Thursday said Olympic-qualified athletes will be allowed to practice and spar in quarantine before they join their respective national camps from a break at home or a competition trip but grant of leave will become an exception now. The latest move comes after several athletes at various national camps across the country tested positive for COVID-19. In case of Delhi's Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, the national women's boxing camp had to be disbanded for now after detection of cases among pugilists and support staff.
"…in view of the need for Olympics-bound athletes to continue their training without disruption, SAI has now taken a decision to allow training even during the quarantine period in a controlled environment," the nodal body said in a statement. Weekly RT-PCR tests are being conducted at SAI centres to keep a check on the infections.
"SAI in consultation with the Indian Olympic Association will decide on grant of leave to Olympics bound athlete & support staff. Leave will be granted only as an exception by National Sports Federation and SAI as it has been observed that most athletes got infected while travelling," it added. Athletes are required to go through a seven-day mandatory quarantine when they reach a SAI centre from a home break or a competition and to ensure that their training can continue during this period, the SAI said small groups would be formed.
"…small group of athletes, coach & sparring (training) partners will be formed wherever possible for Olympic bound athletes. The athlete and this group will remain isolated from rest of the environment till quarantine period is over," the SAI stated. SAI said training in a smaller group during quarantine period will also ensure that large scale transmission of the virus is prevented. "During the quarantine period, general fitness and monitored training on a staggered schedule would be allowed," it said. "…(they) would not be allowed to interact with athletes/support staff in the bio-bubble until the test results of the whole group comes out negative at the end of the initial quarantine period of 7 days," it added. If any member of the group tests positive for the virus at the end of the quarantine period, the whole group will remain in isolation for another week.
"The entire group would be allowed to merge with the regular training group already in the bio-bubble, once every member returns a negative result." If the athlete is asymptomatic, fitness activities through video conference under strict medical supervision will be carried out. "The counselling sessions for such athletes will also be organised to ensure high morale of an athlete is maintained."—PTI