Great escape for Indian boxers from coronavirus-hit Italy

With the coronavirus cases jumping to 400 in Italy, it was virtually a great escape for the Indian boxers training there in Assisi on Thursday.

Amit Panghal is now one win away from securing a Tokyo 2020 berth.

Amit Panghal (in picture) is part of the Indian contingent which is scheduled to fight in the Olympic qualifiers in the Jordanian capital of Amman from March 3.   -  PTI

With the coronavirus spreading fast in many countries, there is a new development virtually every hour. Countries have shut borders, cities have been locked down, people quarantined and flights have been suspended.

And with the coronavirus cases jumping to 400 in Italy, it was virtually a great escape for the Indian boxers training there in Assisi on Thursday. The team (13 boxers and 10 support staff), which is scheduled to fight in the Olympic qualifiers in the Jordanian capital of Amman from March 3, left Italy and reached Germany on Thursday.

“Our team has reached Frankfurt airport and it will be leaving for Jordan in an hour. We were running around from pillar to post,” Jay Kowli, the Secretary General of the Boxing Federation of India, told Sportstar on Thursday evening. The team includes stars like M.C. Mary Kom and Amit Panghal.

Read | Indian boxers, support staff decide to stay put in Italy amid coronavirus threat

Clearly, the new developments – Italy is now experiencing the largest outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe and on Wednesday Royal Jordanian Airlines announced that it was suspending all flights from Amman to Rome until further notice – had left Kowli very worried.

“We had to be alert all the time and get various arrangements done. We had to be very careful. Italy's name (on the coronavirus' hit list) has come out and had we been late, it could have been a problem,” he said.

“People are quarantined, flights are stopped, so it's lucky that we left. We are like parents, they are our kids. Now all over the world, there's a big worry.”

Boxers from Ireland, France, New Zealand and Russia were also training in Assisi, in the central Italian region of Umbria, which is nearly 500km from Lombardy, the worst-affected area. The Irish team had cut short its camp and left on Wednesday.