Athletics

Coronavirus | Federation Cup may be cancelled or postponed

Making an exception: Tejaswin Shankar may get to take part even though he is a non-camper.

Making an exception: Tejaswin Shankar may get to take part even though he is a non-camper.  

AFI president says priority is the well-being of the athletes

The second Indian Grand Prix in Patiala is just a week away and the crucial Federation Cup is about 20 days away but the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is still not sure whether non-National campers will be allowed in these meets.

“I can’t tell you what will happen in the future. Today, the whole situation is so fluid, we are not only taking it day-to-day but hour-to-hour,” Adille Sumariwalla, the AFI president, told The Hindu on Wednesday. “At this point, nobody can tell you what is going to happen 15 days from now.”

No non-campers

Sumariwalla made it clear that the AFI had to stop non-campers from the Indian GP-1 as the Government put a ban on them at the SAI’s National camp centres. The first two Indian GP meets will be held at the SAI-NIS centre in Patiala on March 20 and 25.

Also read: Events affected by coronavirus in India

He said that the AFI can’t even ask the Government whether non-campers would be permitted in the Federation Cup which begins in Patiala on April 10.

“They will not give it today, it will depend on which phase the coronavirus crisis has reached in India at that point,” said the Olympian.

With that being the situation, can’t the AFI hold major National meets like the Federation Cup in non-SAI venues where non-campers would be allowed?

“At the moment, we are not taking our campers out of SAI venue. We have now kept them as safe as we can because it’s a controlled environment. I’m not going to risk my athletes to go out,” said Sumariwalla. “Tomorrow if the SAI venue is infected, I’ll remove them from there.”

The AFI is also not planning to hold a separate National meet for non-campers.

Uncertain times

The current situation in the country owing to the coronavirus issue is so uncertain that there is even a chance of the Federation Cup being cancelled or postponed.

“If you are asking me for answers now, I don’t have them. As of now, everything stands as it is. As we come closer, we will see if things need to be restricted, if things need to be cancelled, if things need to be rescheduled, that can only happen closer to the date,” he said. “So athletes will have to wait and watch.”

The AFI’s first priority is to keep the athletes safe.

“Our first aim is to keep our Olympic qualifiers as safe as possible...and all athletes. Even today, the IOC says that we (the Olympics) are on schedule. In that case, we will have to look at the best interest of those who will qualify. The interest of everything else immediately becomes secondary.”

Special cases, like high jumper Tejaswin Shankar who trains in the US, will be considered separately, he said. Shankar has a personal best which is four centimetres behind the Olympic entry standard of 2.33m.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:52:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/athletics/coronavirus-federation-cup-may-be-cancelled-or-postponed/article31102962.ece

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