Badminton generic(Getty Images)
Badminton generic(Getty Images)

Para shuttlers refuse quarantine, leave SAI centre

The eight-member Indian para-badminton team have “refused” the mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Sports Authority of India’s regional centre here, and decided to shift their base for the first-ever official national camp to the Uttar Pradesh Badminton Academy in Lucknow.
Lucknow | By Sharad Deep
UPDATED ON DEC 22, 2020 07:35 PM IST

The eight-member Indian para-badminton team have “refused” the mandatory 14-day quarantine at the Sports Authority of India’s regional centre here, and decided to shift their base for the first-ever official national camp to the Uttar Pradesh Badminton Academy in Lucknow.

The shuttlers “feel” that the quarantine period is “unusual” and puts them behind their training schedule in preparations for the 2021 Paralympics at Tokyo. An official communication from the SAI about the shifting of the base is yet to arrive, but the shuttlers have already left the SAI centre and presently training at a private academy being run in a school.

In fact, out of 15-member para-badminton campers, only three could report at the SAI centre on the first day at the camp along with chief coach Gaurav Khanna last week, but before others could join the camp, key shuttlers “refused” to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

“Most of the players refused to follow the mandatory 14-day quarantine system so we had no other option but to shift the venue for the training. They felt it as a big waste of important training time,” chief coach Gaurav Khanna said on Tuesday. “So far we have not been told to start training at the UPBA Academy, but we have left the SAI centre and started training at a private academy in Lucknow itself.”

For the SAI, the shifting of the camp to the UPBA is expected to cost big as now it has to pay for the daily use of the badminton courts, for the stay of the players at a hotel, fooding, supplements etc. “It’s a misuse of public money as the SAI could have saved the money, which is to be spent on training and staying facilities of the shuttlers,” a SAI official said on condition of anonymity.

“If the para-shuttlers had no plans to follow the SAI’s SOP, they should have not requested for the national camp within the SAI campus. It took us to at least 10-day to manage things at the hostel etc.,” he added. “The athletes in the country shouldn’t misuse the government’s support.’

SAI’s executive director, Sanjay Saraswat said that the demands of the para-shuttlers to shift their base o the UPBA Academy has already been forwarded to the top authorities at New Delhi and he was waiting for a response. “We are waiting for a response from SAI bosses as we have forwarded the request of the para-shuttlers for the shifting of their national camp to the UPBA academy,” he said.

This isn’t the first time when national campers of a discipline refused to follow the tough guidelines set by the SAI in view of the pandemic Covid-19 corona virus, but the women’s wresters, including Asian Games gold medallist Vinesh Phogat, too had “refused” refused the mandatory 14-day quarantine on their return from a week’s Diwali break last month.

The fortnight’s quarantine was part of the Sports Authority of India’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) due to Covid-19, but most wrestlers refused to return to the camp. The wrestling camp is expected to re-start in the last week of this month here, but it’s not sure that weather wrestlers would accept this mandatory 14-day quarantine session this time.

The SAI centre here would also see the national camp of the women’s kabaddi team in the first week of January, and the authorities are working hard to avoid the clash of the mandatory 14-day quarantine schedule. “We are planning to create a gap of at least 8-10 days between the two camps so that we could adjust all the athletes in the hostel while following the SOP,” said Saraswat.

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