Coronavirus: No sparring sessions for boxers until medical protocol is set

Indian Boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva said that the boxers will not have sparring sessions unless clear instructions are provided.

Santiago Nieva, Indian boxing's high-performance director, had said that the sparring sessions might be conducted in an isolated space.   -  AFP

There is still some time before training resumes at national camps but even when it does, boxers will not engage in any sparring till clear guidelines are in place to ensure their safety in a world scarred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six-time world champion M. C. Mary Kom has made it clear that she won’t recommend sparring at a time when even a touch of the hand is being seen as potentially infection-causing.

“For the time being, I don’t see any sparring happening in training at least, I would be totally against it. I believe training itself will become very individualistic,” she told PTI in a recent interaction.

Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, following an online interaction with the Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh and the boxers on Sunday said all necessary precautions will be put in place before sparring can commence again.

“We will have to discuss with technical officials, high performance directors and most importantly health professionals to assess the precautions we have to put in place before our athletes begin practising with their sparring partners,” he said.

“We have to do thorough medical check-ups, put the partners in quarantine if needed before training can begin,” he added.

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The minister, earlier in the day, said national camps, shut since since mid-March due to the coronavirus-forced lockdown, will restart in a phased manner by the end of this month at least for Olympic-bound athletes.

Indian Boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI that camps, when they resume, will not have sparring sessions unless clear instructions are provided on the protocol to follow.

“There will not be any sparring without a protocol in place,” he said.

“In my opinion, in a closed environment, from which nobody goes out after checking in, sparring can take place. We just have to ensure that the selected group is isolated from others,” he added.

The deadly infection, which has changed the world in a matter of months, has led to over 2,00,000 deaths worldwide.

In India, the death toll has crossed 1300 and more than 39,000 have been infected by the virus which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in November last year.

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