New Delhi: The Olympic core group of 34 Indian shooters will return to camp training from August 1, the National Rifles Association of India (NRAI) announced on Thursday, making attendance compulsory as it aims for a “cautious and phased recommencement of activities from next month”.
In a detailed statement, the NRAI said the decision to restart training was taken at a meeting of its Governing Body, after carefully weighing the COVID-19 threat. The camp will be organised at the Dr. Karni Singh Shooting Range (DKSSR) in the national capital, which has recorded over 1 lakh positive cases.
The NRAI has appointed High Performance Manager and former India shooter Ronak Pandit as the Nodal Officer in charge of overall co-ordination for hygiene and medical protocols of the camp.
“Attendance shall be compulsory for this camp as the unprecedented circumstances found globally with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic dictates, that NRAI’s options at being accommodating are virtually zero,” the body said in a statement.
“Therefore, currently the option of choice and personal interests, must necessarily, be put on the back-burner by all in the national interest, it was decided,” it added.
The Karni Singh range was reopened for use on July 8. the shooters have been training at their respective bases ever since the pandemic forced a closure of facilities.
“…utmost and most meticulous planning needs to be placed above all in the very strictest and most sterile conditions that we must now assure,” NRAI President Raninder Singh said.
“The health and safety of the players and coaches being paramount, we cannot afford any loose ends. NRAI can today say that it is fully prepared to resume a cautious and phased recommencement of National Shooting activities from next month,” he added.
A total of 15 Indian shooters have qualified for the Olympic Games, postponed to next year due to the raging pandemic.
The Manav Rachna University campus, which is an International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) training academy and located close to the DKSSR, will house the core group, coaches and its support staff during the camp.
NRAI would also arrange transport to and from the venue.
Pandit’s responsibility will be to ensure that all necessary safety precautions and guidelines related to COVID-19 are followed and implemented by all those involved in the camp.
“…the NRAI shall be issuing its own and additional protocols that shall be strictly implemented in addition to those issued by SAI India, and naturally shall also be adhered to,” the governing body’s statement read.
All the campers — athletes, officials, coaches and support staff — will be segregated and kept under the “strictest of quarantine-type conditions”.
They will be be required to submit a “valid and recent COVID-19 test result from their home locations and only then shall they be permitted to join the camp”.
The NRAI Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) manual will be released a week before the start of the camp.
The NRAI is also planning to start segregated camps for its core group of athletes, both in the senior and junior categories.
“This is a very important necessity as a year has been lost effectively and 2022 shall see qualifications coming for the Paris Olympiad and the NRAI cannot ignore the preparations of its bench strength to go out then and maximise the quotas for Paris.”
The NRAI is also working on organising “bilateral engagements for its Olympic squad” subject to approval of the government and the Sports Authority of India.