NRAI tells shooters to train in country amid coronavirus threat

India's national shooting federation will also not hesitate to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics test event in April if it becomes a health risk.


REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: Indian shooters are scheduled to participate in the Olympic test event in April.   -  Getty Images

India’s national shooting federation on Wednesday said it will not allow its shooters to travel abroad for training due to the novel coronavirus threat and won’t hesitate in pulling out of a Tokyo Olympics Test event in April if it becomes a health risk.

Indian shooters are scheduled to travel to Tokyo to participate in the Olympic Test event slated to take place from April 16 to 26 in the Japanese capital, which will host the main event in July-August this year.

Read: Shooter Manu Bhaker undeterred by high expectations

“We have chosen our test event team but we are yet to decide (on travelling there). I’m not going to risk any of those kids. If we receive any advice from the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) or the international federation, our own mission in Tokyo or even our own assessment we feel there’s a threat, it isn’t worth the risk,” National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh said on Wednesday.

“We are also not allowing our shooters to travel overseas to train as well due to the virus,” Singh said.

“If a shooter is infected in the test event then we are subjecting him or her to the gravest of dangers and then that shooter won’t be able to participate in the Olympics, hampering our chances of winning a medal,” he added.

On Wednesday, Japanese president Shinzo Abe called for big sports and cultural events over the next two weeks to be cancelled or postponed to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

The J League has also postponed all domestic games through the first half of March. While one of the largest sporting events in the Japan will be curtailed, the participation in the Tokyo Marathon is now limited to elite runners and wheelchair competitors.

The novel coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to other countries as well, including Japan, South Korea and Italy causing over 2600 deaths.

With the threat of coronavirus looming, asked if the disease or the travel restrictions put in place by the federation will affect the Indian shooters, Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manu Bhaker said, “Whatever the federation does is in the best interest of the shooters.”

“The decisions NRAI will take or has taken will be for our good only. Everybody wants us to do well and win medals and this coronavirus will not mentally affect us.”

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