Mehta: 'One wrong move can affect athletes’ Olympics preparation'

IOA secretary Mehta expressed his vehement opposition after the Sports Authority of India (SAI) released the Sports Ministry-approved SOP for athletes to follow while training amid the pandemic

IOA secretary Rajeev Mehta said the athletes should not be be forced the resume training.

Indian Olympic Association (IAO) secretary general Rajeev Mehta on Friday warned against rushing athletes into training amid the rising COVID-19 cases, saying a wrong move at this point can have a bearing on their Olympics preparation.

Mehta expressed his vehement opposition after the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Thursday released the Sports Ministry-approved SOP for athletes to follow while training amid the pandemic, which has claimed more than 3,500 lives in the country so far.

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“God forbid by any chance if an athlete tests positive who will be responsible for that? The unfortunate athlete will suffer and it may affect his or her Olympic preparation,” Mehta told PTI.

READ | Tokyo Olympics will 'definitely' be held next year - Batra

He said the athletes should not be be forced the resume training.

The office-bearer added, “It is my personal view that the athletes should not be rushed to outdoor training now. Cases are increasing and likely to continue increasing in June also. It has not peaked yet.

“Athletes are just like our children and so it is my advice to them. My views are not against anybody. But it is up to the athletes to start training or not.”

READ: SAI announces SOP for training resumption

The SAI’s SOP came after the home ministry allowed the opening of sports complexes and stadia in its guidelines for the fourth phase of the lockdown, which has been extended till May 31. But there has been no clarity on when the training will resume.

The issue of resumption has again brought to the fore the growing fissure within the country’s top sports body, with IOA president Narinder Batra deciding to take over much of the secretary general’s responsibilities in what appeared to be an attempt to sideline his deputy.