Omicron variant COVID-19: AFI cancels Neeraj Chopra's South Africa trip

Javelin thrower Neeraj was supposed to train in South Africa from December to March; Federation now working on sending the Olympic champion to the US.

FILE PHOTO: Javelin thrower Neeraj was supposed to train in South Africa from December to March.   -  THE HINDU

With the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading fear all over, Neeraj Chopra's training trip to South Africa has now been cancelled.

The plan was to send javelin thrower Neeraj, the country's first Olympic champion in athletics, to South Africa on December 2 and he was supposed to stay there till March next year. But the highly transmissable Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, has forced the Athletics Federation of India to quickly change its plans.

“Neeraj's South Africa trip has been cancelled. We are trying to send him to the US,” chief national coach Radhakrishnan Nair told Sportstar from Patiala on Monday evening.

“The AFI will decide as soon as possible.”

With next year loaded with many majors, including the World Championships (July 14-24, Oregon, US), Commonwealth Games (July 28-Aug. 8, Birmingham, England) and Asian Games (Sept. 10-25, Hangzhou, China), the original plan was to bring Neeraj from his foreign training base to India for national competitions in March and then send him to Europe for training and competitions again.

But now, with a few countries suspending flights and others planning stricter checking and quarantine, flying could be a headache all over again.

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