Indian boxing team in Italy wary of virus threat
The Indian boxing squad, based out of Italy and preparing for the Olympic qualifiers, are putting in place an emergency plan to leave their training base after the country reported the biggest surge in novel coronavirus cases outside of Asia.
India’s high performance director Santiago Nieva said the national team plans to stay for one more day before taking a final call to leave Italy’s Olympic training centre in Assisi, which is a two-hour drive from Rome’s International airport. The 13-member group, including the women’s squad, has been camping in Assisi for the last two weeks to prepare for next month’s Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Amman, Jordan from March 3.
At least six people have died and more than 200 are affected by the virus outbreak in Italy, with the bulk of the cases reported from the northern region of Lombardy, whose capital is the city of Milan.
“It is a sort of emergency for us too,” Nieva said over the phone.
Milan is close to 500km from Assisi.
“It was alarming. I had to send a SOS signal to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) fearing if things get worse, we could possibly miss the important tournament in Jordan. Therefore should leave as early as possible,” Nieva said.
Milan has already put emergency measures in place, with all schools and offices closed and major screening efforts in place at airports.
On Tuesday, after an assurance from the Italian Boxing Federation president Vittorio Lai that the situation is being monitored, the Indian team decided to wait and see how the situation develops.
“There are good sparring partners as more than 10 countries are camping here to prepare for the Olympic qualifiers,” Nieva said.
“We had good training on Monday and have another important training session on Wednesday. After that we will decide whether to leave or stay till the weekend,” Nieva added.
According to the original schedule, the Indian team is supposed to leave on Friday or Saturday for Jordan.
BFI secretary general Jay Kowli said precautionary measures are being taken by the team.
“The Italian boxing federation is supporting all the teams,” he said.
Six-time world champion Mary Kom (51kg) is one of the key members of the Indian team training in Assisi.
Women’s squad: Mary Kom (51kg), Sakshi Chaudhary (57kg), Simranjit Chakar (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg).
Men’s squad: Amit Panghal (52kg), Gaurav Solanki (57kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sachin Kumar (81kg), Naman Tanwar (91kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg).