‘Glad we didn’t go for the All England Open’
Top athletes talk to HT about their experience of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. This is Chirag Shetty, the Mumbai-based shuttler who, along with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy, forms India’s highest-ranked men’s doubles pair at world No 10.Updated: Apr 23, 2020 16:27 IST
In Mumbai, they have shut down everything because of which I haven’t been able to practice for almost a month. I usually train at the Goregaon Sports Club under (coach) Uday Pawar sir. These are definitely tough times. There’s nothing we can do right now. We have to stick to the limited resources that we have as of now.
When it comes to passing time, if I start thinking about it I start cribbing and feel bad. I am just trying to spend as much time as possible with my family. I have my mum, younger sister and dad with me here in Mumbai. A month ago, before the lockdown was announced, we visited our relatives and I got the opportunity to spend time with my cousins. With outsiders, however, I was being a little cautious—avoiding handshakes, not touching my face, etc.
Since then with nothing much to do, I am just spending time watching TV and shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Last month, I watched Contagion, a movie that was similar to what’s happening in the world right now due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The movie was made in 2011 and shows how a virus spreads, forcing people to be under quarantine.
The coronavirus has also forced us to miss many tournaments, with my last competition being the Badminton Asia Team Championships (in February) in Manila.
We also had to skip the big one—the All England Open. The coaches and everybody told us that it is better to avoid going there. We spoke to (Pullela) Gopichand sir and he said that it is our choice but it’s better to not go as we have almost confirmed our place for the Tokyo Olympics (which was later postponed to next year). So it was not worth taking the risk.
Initially, I wanted to go but my doubles partner Satwiksairaj Rankireddy was hesitant. I am glad that we didn’t go as the situation became worse after that. All those who went to England were asked to stay under home quarantine for at least 14 days. It was a difficult decision to forego a tier-1 event and that too the All England Open, which is the biggest event after the World Championships. It was a big decision but considering the situation right now it was a wise one. I am happy that I took the decision.
(As told to Sandip Sikdar)