Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju has said that elite athletes can return to their rigorous training for events, including the Tokyo Olympics, by the end of the month since they have not been included in the list of activities allowed yet. Speaking in a webinar organised by the FICCI sports committee on Corona & Sports with champion sports personalities, Rijiju said, “Practice session/training can resume by month end. Sports in India is yet to get relaxation since it is not included in the list of necessary practices.”
Rijiju spoke on how sportspersons and their associations have come forward to donate money and create awareness in the time of need. The minister, who also holds the independent charge of youth affairs, said his ministry has trained 40 lakh volunteers from the National Service Scheme and the Nehru Yuva Kendra. The planning for Olympics or international competition did not seem to be a priority and was missing in the discussion. Apart from Rijiju, the two-hour webinar saw the participation of FICCI Secretary-General Dilip Chenoy, Indian women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal, international footballer Gurpreet Singh, cricketer Robin Uthappa and legendary badminton coach Pullela Gopichand. Chenoy, in his welcome address, threw light on how the world of sports is changing and more and more people are going for online activities.
He said that many countries have already started sporting activities like the Korean National Baseball League which is the third largest in the world, golf courses have been thrown open in the US, the German football team has resumed practice sessions despite three players testing positive for coronavirus. He said FICCI would be happy to work with the government to work out a roadmap for opening up the sports sector so that it returns to normalcy as soon as possible.
Women’s hockey team captain Rani Rampal said, “We have done lots of indoor activities to raise funds for the needy. We are missing our family as we are in the camp.” Gurpreet Singh, who is in Australia, did mention of “jogging in the sun” and said it’s important, in the time of uncertainty, to stand together and motivate each other to deal with the situation. Robin Uthappa said this is the best time to utilise with important people around you. He said that he is keeping fit and waiting to get back to active playing soon. Gopichand was more focused on the training part of young athletes and said currently the health of the people is priority