Sports Authority of India on alert, athletes anxious
New Delhi: The World Cup of shooting became the first major sporting event to be postponed in India due to the global novel coronavirus outbreak, which has also impacted the Olympic preparations of the country's top athletes.
The event, which was to be held from March 15 to 25 in the national capital, had to be postponed, while an Olympic Test event in Tokyo, scheduled from April 16, stood cancelled.
India's coronavirus patient count is 31 at this point, including 16 Italian tourists. Internationally, the deadly outbreak has so far killed more than 3,300 people and infected nearly 100,000 in about 85 countries.
The cancelled shooting World Cup will now held in two parts before the the Olympic Games. "It is proposed to divide the World Cup in two parts and hold Rifle and Pistol competitions on May 5-12, 2020, while Shotgun competitions on June 2-9, 2020," the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) said in a statement.
The decision was taken after tournament organisers -- the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) -- approached the ISSF with a proposal to postpone the event.
That request was triggered by the government-imposed restrictions on the entry of travellers from affected countries such as China, Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran, in a bid to contain the outbreak. In all, 22 countries had pulled out of the Delhi event, an official in NRAI told PTI.
SAI TAKES PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES
In another development, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said it will suspend biometric attendance for staff and athletes at its centres across the country.
"The coronavirus is taking a gigantic shape. In a day or two, we will come out with an order to temporarily suspend biometric attendance for our employees in all our centres," a top SAI official said.
On the sidelines, India's top athletes such as P V Sindhu and Bajrang Punia spoke about the adverse impact that the crisis has had on their Olympic preparations.
"It (coronavirus) has just come out and has become too much now. It's a bad thing to happen in an Olympic year. Few of the tournaments have been cancelled, so we will have to wait and see what happens," said Sindhu.
"We are facing difficulties in going out of the country for training. Travel bans have been put in place for many countries which is hampering our preparation," added three-time world medallist Bajrang Punia, one of India's top Olympic medal hopes in wrestling.