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Guidelines for Athletes Get Stricter as Training Gets Thumbs Up

Sports Authority of India (SAI) is in the process of getting the national camps restarted in Bengaluru and Patiala, where athletes have been in lockdown for the past two months.
Athletes training to resume at NIS Patiala following relaxation of lockdown norms

Athletes in residence at NIS Patiala will be allowed to go back to training in small groups while adhering to strict guidelines drafted by the AFI.

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) announced a new set of guidelines once training for elite track and field athletes begins again. The federation’s protocols that will stop athletes from making non-essential contact while maintaining physical distancing.

“Any coach or athlete not following the advisory of the Athletics Federation on schedule of training will be asked to stop the training immediately by supervisors,” the guidelines warned.

On Monday, Sports minister Kiren Rijiju said ‘sports activities will be conducted in sports complexes and stadia strictly in accordance with MHA guidelines and that of the states in which they are situated.’ The announcement does not make clear whether the sports ministry has allowed the athletes to get back to training. 

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A Sports Authority of India (SAI) official also said that they are in the process of getting national camps restarted in Bengaluru and Patiala, where athletes have been in lockdown for the past few months.Track and field athletes at the National Institute of Sport (NIS) in Patiala are going to be given a long list of dos and don’ts before they can get back to training. According to the guidelines, athletes will ‘not (be) permitted to leave the hostel other than for training or for any treatment/rehabilitation.’

Athletes are also ordered to not ‘loiter around the training area or outside the hostel rooms’. Moreover, training will be restricted to small groups and athletes should ‘strictly adhere [to] the duration of training.’ 

Additionally, the guidelines state, athletes will not be allowed to go shopping, visit a hairdresser or beauty parlour. “Athletes are not allowed to go out of campus and are not [to] order any food packed or unpacked. No courier or parcel will be accepted by athletes directly and should be kept minimum 24 hours away and to be sanitised,” it added. 

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The athletes are also advised against ‘spitting inside the campus or training places’, which the advisory added, is ‘punishable under the rules of Government of India.’ “No shaking hands or hugging to any friends and no gathering like birthday etc inside the hostel or outside the hostel,” the guidelines said. “Must have a shower immediately after returning from training.”

An AFI official said these measures are being put in place keeping in mind the health of athletes. “We had already submitted our Standard Operating Procedure to the SAI. However, we believe it is essential that the health of the athletes is not compromised. Hence, we came up with this policy. It is strict, but it is for the well-being of athletes,” the official said. “It is right now a draft. We might add more points and make it official on Tuesday.”

Along with these, athletes will also have to adhere to the basic guidelines underlaid by SAI, which include tests for those returning to the training facilities and mandatory quarantine until the test results come out.

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