The Government of India has forewarned the Sports Authority of India (SAI) that stadiums and sports hostels under them could be used as quarantine sites to fight the COVID-19 pandemic if there’s a spike in the number of positive cases in the coming days.
SAI has 10 regional centres across India as well as five stadiums in New Delhi and can provide a ‘minimum of 2,000 isolation beds’.
“This is an emergency situation. Anything and everything which is required in the interest of public health will be made available,” sports secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya was quoted saying by the Indian Express.
It was also informed that the National Boxing Academy would be available in case of an emergency after the Rohtak district administration reached out to SAI.
“We have informed everyone that we will not hesitate and make the centres available to whoever needs it,” Radhey Shyam Julaniya said.
Elsewhere, West Bengal’s chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday announced that Howrah’s multi-purpose indoor Dumurjala Stadium will be converted into a 150-bed quarantine centre to help with the rising number of patients.
“In Howrah, for instance, we heard the Dumurjola stadium is newly built but no sporting activity is taking place there yet. Let them set up more beds there and we will later return it like new,” the West Bengal chief minister said.
The Maharashtra government also decided to take similar measures by converting the Balewadi Sports Complex into a quarantine zone with 500 beds.
Earlier, the ministry had discontinued all ongoing camps at SAI centres, ordering its trainees to vacate the premises immediately and suspending all domestic tournaments and national selection trials till April 15.
However, Olympic-bound athletes and those expected to make the Tokyo 2020 cut were allowed to continue their training at camps in the Bangalore SAI centre, the National Institute of Sport in Patiala and others trained at Sonepat.
Hockey India continue preparations for Tokyo
Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for India’s men’s and women’s hockey players who are continuing their training and preparation for Tokyo 2020 while being isolated inside Bengaluru’s SAI Centre.
“The COVID-19 outbreak has not affected our practice sessions. We are continuously washing our hands and our temperatures are being checked regularly,” Indian hockey men’s team’s captain Manpreet Singh told the Press Trust of India.
“The authorities at our SAI campus are ensuring that we are training in a safe environment. With the backing of SAI and our coaches, we have been training very hard for the Olympics,” the 2019 FIH Player of the Year added.
The women’s team captain Rani Rampal insisted that India was fortunate to still be able to practice and continue training in safe surroundings.
“We are very fortunate to have a facility like the SAI campus here. Everyone is working very hard so that the hockey teams can continue to practice for the Olympics. Our health is being monitored every day and we are taking all the necessary precautions,” Rani Rampal said.
Almost 500 positive cases have been confirmed across India with the numbers likely to rise in the next few days.