India to miss Olympic qualifier World Relays due to COVID-forced flight suspension

The relay teams was scheduled to take a 3 a.m. KLM flight to Amsterdam on Thursday but the Royal Dutch Airlines intimated that it would not allow them to board the flight.

The disappointment comes a couple of days after the AFI withdrew its women's 4x400m relay team from the World Relays as a few of its leading runners were either injured, not fit or were not ready (File photo)-   -  Biswaranjan Rout

With many European countries banning flights from India over its rising COVID-19 numbers, the Indian men's 4x400m and women's 4x100m teams will now miss the World Athletics Relays which begin at Silesia, Poland, on May 1.

The relay teams was scheduled to take a 3 a.m. KLM flight to Amsterdam from Mumbai on Thursday but the Royal Dutch Airlines intimated that it would not allow them to board the flight after the Netherlands Government's ban on passenger flights from India.

“We are very disappointed at this moment. There are no direct flights between Indian airports and Warsaw, Poland. This meant that despite the best efforts, the squad could not be rerouted on another airline,” Adille Sumariwalla, the president of the Athletics Federation of India, said on Wednesday evening.

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“For the last 24 hours we have been consistently trying to find alternatives, we have used all the resources to sort this out, we have been constantly speaking to the organisers, the World Athletics, various consulates and airlines to reroute them. Under the present scenario nobody has obliged.”

Muhammed Anas, Arokia Rajiv, Amoj Jacob, Nirmal Noah Tom, Hima Das and Dutee Chand were among the prominent athletes who were supposed to take part in the World Relays which are a qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics and World Championships.

The disappointment comes a couple of days after the AFI withdrew its women's 4x400m relay team from the World Relays as a few of its leading runners – Anjali Devi, V.K. Vismaya and Jisna Mathew – were either injured, not fit or were not ready.

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