Olympics-bound race walker Irfan tests positive for COVID-19 in SAI Bengaluru

Olympics-bound race walker K.T. Irfan is among the five elite track-and-field athletes to test positive for COVID-19 at the Sports Authority of India's Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru.

The 31-year-old Irfan had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in early 2019.   -  PTI

Olympics-bound race walker K.T. Irfan is among the five elite track-and-field athletes to test positive for COVID-19 at the Sports Authority of India's Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru.

The 31-year-old Irfan had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in early 2019 after finishing fourth in the 20 km event at the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi in Japan.

The tests were conducted last Friday and those who returned positive have been kept under quarantine.

"At least five elite athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 when tests were conducted on Friday. They have been kept isolated from others," a source at the SAI Centre told PTI.

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The source said another race walker could also have tested positive but this could not be confirmed. "Four male players and one female player and four support staff tested positive for COVID-19," a SAI source stated.

"The female player had come from home. The players were tested on 6th and their results came positive on 7th. They received their first vaccine dose on 29th April.

"One male player and one female player were not vaccinated. They have been tested again on the 10th and their results are awaited tomorrow," the source added.

 It is learnt that none of the female race walkers are among those who returned positive.

The 31-year-old Irfan had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics way back in early 2019 after finishing fourth in the 20 km event of the Asian Race Walking Championships in Nomi, Japan.

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The SAI source also said one member of the hockey team training at the centre has tested positive. "This one hockey player will be tested again tomorrow," the SAI source said, without giving the name of the player.

Last month, five Indian athletes training here -- Olympic-bound Priyanka Goswami, Asian Games 1500m gold-medallist Jinson Johnson, long distance runner Parul Chaudhary, steeplechaser Chinta Yadav and another race walker Eknath -- had tested positive for the dreaded virus. Russian race walk coach Alexander Artsybashev had also tested positive at that time. Irfan returned negative at that time after he was tested as a primary contact of Johnson.

The SAI centre had also grappled with COVID-19 infection of Indian women's hockey captain Rani Rampal, her six team-mates and two support staff members. All of them have since recovered after spending two weeks in quarantine. The SAI centre in Bengaluru is the training base of the men's and women's hockey teams and track and field athletes.

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