N Sikki Reddy, physio Kiran C test Covid positive at national camp
Barely a week after the resumption of the national camp, the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy in Hyderabad was on Thursday shut down for sanitisation after doubles shuttler N Sikki Reddy and physiotherapist C Kiran tested positive for Covid-19. Reddy is India’s highest ranked women’s (world No.28 with Ashwini Ponnappa) and mixed doubles (No.27 with Pranaav Jerry Chopra) player.
“Both Sikki and Kiran are aysmptomatic. All primary contacts of Sikki and Kiran have been traced and are being given the RT PCR test again. Both are locals of Hyderabad and have been attending the camps from their homes,” a Sports Authority of India (SAI) statement said.
The reports came to light after the players, coaches, administrative and support staff took the mandatory Covid-19 test. “All necessary precautions as per protocol are being taken so that players can come back for training safely and as soon as possible,” chief national coach Pullela Gopichand said from Hyderabad.
While some results came in on Wednesday, the others—like Reddy—were informed about their report on Thursday. “They are in home quarantine. There will be another round of tests five or six days later. I think all decisions will be taken after that,” said an official on condition of anonymity.
The national camp had been shut since March after the international calendar was suspended by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) and finally resumed on August 7 after the Telangana government gave the go ahead for opening stadiums and academies from August 5.
Authorities selected only eight Olympic probables—Reddy, reigning world champion PV Sindhu, B Sai Praneeth, Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth, Ashwini Ponnappa, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy—to start training initially.
While Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Reddy started practice from the first day, Srikanth joined in on Monday after returning from his hometown Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Olympic bronze medallist Nehwal, on the other hand, has been training with husband Parupalli Kashyap at a different centre in Hyderabad and was to return to the camp after more court time.
Shetty (Mumbai), Ponnappa (Bengaluru) and Rankireddy (Amalapuram) hail from different cities and decided to return only after monitoring the situation for a couple of weeks. “It is quite unfortunate that this has happened,” world No.10 men’s doubles specialist Shetty said from Mumbai. “The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by SAI was systematic and clearly mentioned the necessary precautions which I am sure everyone must have followed. Hopefully, it (Covid-19) hasn’t spread and things can get back to normal soon as we have to start preparing for the Thomas Cup soon. I think it was a good decision to not go immediately.”
The BWF has been suspending tournaments and postponing the restart of the circuit since March. Currently, the international calendar is expected to resume with the Thomas and Uber Cups in Aarhus, Denmark, from October 3 to 11.