Sports Ministry allows resumption of training, NSFs await further details

While the MHA order says sports facilities can open sans spectators, Sports Federations are awaiting more details before deciding on the resumption of training.

Adille Sumariwalla

AFI president Adille Sumariwalla says "We have asked for clarification but honestly, given the situation, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. A couple of days delay in training is better than putting the athletes’ health to any risk."   -  GETTY IMAGES

A day after the Home Ministry advised restricted opening up of sports complexes and stadia, the sports ministry has given its go-ahead to the proposal.

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, on Monday, confirmed the resumption of sporting activities and training, subject to the central and state-specific guidelines. “I'm happy to inform sportspersons and all concerned that sports activities will be conducted in sports complexes and stadia strictly in accordance with MHA guidelines and that of the States in which they are situated. However, use of gyms & swimming pools are still prohibited,” Rijiju tweeted.

The ministry’s approval would help Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres to resume training of athletes, following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) designed by SAI and individual federations.

Most National Sports Federations, however, have preferred to adopt a cautious wait-and-watch mode, waiting for detailed instructions and clarifications before kick starting their training and competition schedules. The MHA order had allowed opening up sports complexes and stadia only for sporting activities and without spectators.

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While Hockey India is awaiting further suitable guidelines and approvals on restarting the national camps for men and women – who have been restricted to SAI Centre, Bangalore for the past two months – the Athletics Federation of India is unsure how the order impacts the premier NIS in Patiala, where the athletes and weightlifters are.

“Hockey India today submitted the pitch training requests for the men and women core probables and are awaiting approval and confirmation on the same,” the federation said, having submitted its hockey-specific SoP to the ministry way back on April 11. 

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AFI president Adille Sumariwalla too has been waiting for the government approval for a month now. “We submitted our plan way back and are waiting for a go-ahead. Also, as per my understanding, the NIS in Patiala is an educational institution and so remains closed even in the new order. We have asked for clarification but honestly, given the situation, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry. A couple of days delay in training is better than putting the athletes’ health to any risk,” Sumariwalla told Sportstar.

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The National Rifle Association of India too has decided to proceed slowly, with president Raninder Singh assuring that a firm plan for training and competitions would be drawn up soon once protocols for opening up shooting ranges are finalised.