New Delhi: Confined to their hostel rooms for more than two months due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown, elite Indian athletes such as javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra and sprinter Hima Das started outdoor training at the Sports Authority of India centre in Patiala on Wednesday.
The SAI said training, which also resumed at its Bengaluru centre, took place in strict compliance with the health guidelines of the government and the Standard Operating Procedure that was unveiled last week.
“Elite athletes housed in the National Centre of Excellence in Patiala and Bangaluru have resumed sporting activities from Wednesday…,” the SAI said in a statement.
The National Centre Of Excellence (NCOE) Patiala, also known as National Institute of Sports (NIS), is currently home to weightlifters, including those who have qualified for Tokyo Olympics, and eminent track and field athletes such as Neeraj and Hima.
The Bengaluru centre is host to the senior men’s and women’s national hockey teams and race walkers like K T Irfan and Bhawana Jat.
“In keeping with the government guidelines, all necessary safety measures of hygiene and social distancing are being maintained by athletes on the field of play,” the SAI said.
“Equipment are being self-sanitised by athletes after use and no two athletes are allowed to use the same equipment during the sports activity.”
The SAI further stated that in both the centres, the athletes trained in staggered schedules to ensure social distancing.
“Sanitisation of hands, shoes and kits is being followed at both the centres.”
Athletes at all the SAI centres across the country were stuck in their rooms after the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25 to control the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the sportspersons heaved a sigh of relief when the government, on May 17, permitted the use of stadia and sports complexes without spectators and under strict guidelines, allowing the athletes to return to outdoor training.