Adille Sumariwalla, the president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI), has ruled out the possibility of any Indian athlete participating in the upcoming Diamond League meetings rescheduled to begin on August 14 in Monaco.
According to the Press Trust of India, speaking at an online conference in the presence of the World Athletics president Lord Sebastian Coe, Sumariwalla reasoned that the safety of the athletes was paramount.
“We are not interested in sending our athletes abroad before 2021 till we have a far better idea,” he said. “So, no Diamond League for our athletes. The athletes who are now in national camps will also preferably be there for the next three months.”
Indian athletes, including ace javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, were looking forward to the one-day Diamond League meetings which provide them with an opportunity to test themselves against the best in the world.
Shivpal Singh, another Indian javelin thrower who has qualified for the Olympics, expressed his disappointment at missing the opportunity to compete at the event when it was announced that it was postponed earlier.
“It was a great feeling to be able to compete with the best in the world last year and I was looking forward to the Diamond League action this year also,” he had told PTI late last month.
The 2020 season of the Diamond League meetings have been rescheduled following the COVID-19 pandemic with the latest dates running from August to October.
Focus on domestic meets
A few weeks back, the AFI too announced their domestic calendar that has competitions beginning on September 12 till November 1.
“The plan is the athletes will compete in five events in Indian circuit starting on 12 September and they will have some sort of off-season after October,” Sumariwalla stated explaining the reason behind the decision.
Next year, we plan to have training (programmes) in Europe if the situation allows and then they can reach peak form during the Tokyo Olympics.”
The session also saw Lord Coe float a few ideas like middle-distance runners starting their races a few seconds apart and relay runners with gloves as steps to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“As an individual sport, there are things that we can do,” the four-time Olympic medallist was quoted as saying by Sportstar.
“It's not going to look identical to traditional track and field for a few months but I think there are things that we can do to give the audience that's watching on television some excitement that athletics is back and, crucially, for athletes to go from training to specific amounts of competition.”