Sports Authority of India announces guidelines, but no clarity on outdoor training still

The wait continues
The Indian senior hockey teams are at SAI, Bengaluru. File photo: PTI
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New Delhi: The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) formulated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) for resumption of training has been approved by the Sports Ministry, SAI Director Rohit Bharadwaj said on Thursday. Though Bharadwaj said that the SOP would be implemented "immediately," there was no specific guideline as to when the athletes can start outdoor training, particularly at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala and the SAI centre in Bengaluru.

Bhardwaj made the announcement in an online video conference hosted by SAI in which the SOP was presented. "This SOP will be implemented immediately as of now. However, only activities that are permitted under the government guidelines will begin," he said.

It was however stated that the SOP will be inferior in places where they may clash with the guidelines of the specific state government. Additionally, Bharadwaj said that it is only a "broad reference document" and will need to be adapted according to the conditions of the particular region.

"The protocols are effective immediately. It is a broad reference document. Depending on local conditions, it needs to be customised. If state government has not permitted certain sections, then their guidelines of state government will take precedence," he said.

The senior Indian hockey teams and 10 track and field athletes who are training for the postponed Tokyo Olympics are at SAI Bengaluru while a number of elite track and field athletes including star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra are at NIS Patiala. The Bengaluru centre was recently given a jolt when a cook working there died of cardiac arrest and later tested positive for COVID-19.

COVID-19 threat
The coronavirus outbreak has upset the plans of the athletes. Representational image: IANS

SAI had announced the formation of the six-member committee led by Bharadwaj on May 10. A separate committee headed by Executive Director, TEAMS Division of SAI, Radhica Sreeman, was formed for formulating SOPs for swimming. Opening of stadiums and sports complexes for athletes was among the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 17 while announcing an extension of the nationwide lockdown that is in place to stem the spread of coronavirus.

"I'm happy to inform sportspersons and all concerned that sports activities will be conducted in sports complexes and stadia strictly in accordance with MHA guidelines and that of the States in which they are situated. However, use of gyms & swimming pools are still prohibited," Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said in a tweet.

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