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Swine flu deals body blow to squash nationals

other Updated: Aug 12, 2009 00:51 IST
Ajai Masand
Ajai Masand
Hindustan Times
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Hindustan Times had reported on Monday that the Squash Racquet Federation of India (SRFI) was contemplating postponing the Senior National Squash Championships due to the outbreak of swine flu.

On Tuesday, came the confirmation that the event, scheduled at the Delhi Gymkhana from August 15, stood postponed indefinitely.

Some of the players, who had arrived in the Capital, were shocked by the notice at the Delhi Gymkhana which said the event had been put off indefinitely and that fresh dates would be announced later.

In the midst of this development, the stance of the SRFI, which is headquartered in Chennai, came as a surprise. The federation had said on Monday that it would postpone the tournament only in the event of a government directive.

National coach Cyrus Poncha said on Tuesday that the decision was taken after taking into account the “concerns of parents”. Asked if the government had issued a directive, he said: “The decision has only been taken by the SRFI.”

Asked if the SRFI had acted in haste, Poncha replied in the negative.

Around 350 players including top names like Joshna Chinappa, Dipika Pallikal and Saurav Ghoshal were expected to compete in the individual category.

Reacting to the SRFI move, an organiser of the Sprite Indian Squash Professionals (ISP) All-India tournament, which commences here on August 22, said: “The SRFI has over-reacted. But we will go ahead with our tournament. The problem is we might not get the same number of entries as we had hoped those coming for the nationals would have stayed for our tournament.”

Sports Ministry joint secretary Pravir Krishn said there was no need to panic. “Sport should be encouraged in places where the threat perception is less,” he said.

Another joint secretary Injeti Sriniwas said the ministry was not planning a blanket ban on sporting activities across the country.

“It's not right and not feasible. There has to be a case-by-case approach. The ministry cannot give a general directive to stop sport,” he said.

He said a meeting with the Health Ministry was lined up later on Tuesday, but clarified: “That is for other issues, but we might discuss the situation arising out of swine flu.”