The latest guidelines on the extension of lockdown from the central government have finally opened up the spectre of training for athletes across India, with caveats.
“Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open only for sports activities. However, spectators will not be allowed in these complexes,” the MHA note on Sunday said.
This would allow the elite athletes, many of who are stuck in their hostel rooms at various Sports Authority of India centres across the country, to resume their practice and workouts. The athletes have been restricted since mid-March when the nation went into lockdown mode.
While this would allow non-contact sports to start training almost immediately, those with full or partial contact would be looking for further clarity before resuming full training. “We still need to clarify if all sports complexes are open or only training centres? The SAI centres are in any case not open to general public but every sport is different, so let us wait a day to know the details,” IOA president Narinder Batra said.
The restrictions, however, mean only training facilities are likely to begin at the moment. There is also uncertainty on the complexes that can be opened up, since a lot of them also belong to various State governments.
However, the MHA guideline released on Sunday also says "all social/political/sports/entertainment/academic/cultural/religious functions/other gatherings and large congregations" are still prohibited, thereby casting a doubt on the resumption of competitive sport.
Meanwhile, the National Sports Federations preferred to wait for further clarity before deciding on their future course of action.
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Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju had, in his recent interactions with athletes and administrators across sports, indicated the ministry’s attempts at phased resumption of training, at least for Olympics-bound athletes, by month-end.
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