ISSF Shooting World Cup: Rising Covid cases raise concerns

Updated on Mar 21, 2021 06:43 PM IST

Six participants have tested positive, including two of India’s rapid fire pistol shooters in this prestigious event

File photo of ISSF World Cup(File)
File photo of ISSF World Cup(File)

The rising number of Covid positive cases among Indian shooters at the ongoing ISSF World Cup here has raised the concerns of the event organisers and the Indian contingent. Two of India’s rapid-fire pistol shooters reported positive on Saturday night, taking the total number of cases to six. There have also been reports of bio-bubble breach by shooters.

Following the adverse reports, National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) has taken measures to strengthen the bio-bubble. This is the first rifle/pistol and shotgun World Cup after a year and 12 individual quotas for the Tokyo Olympics will be distributed from the event. The tournament runs for another week. There are 53 countries participating with close to 300 shooters in action. India have fielded 57 shooters.

“Indian shooters have been asked not to go to the dining area in their hotel. They will be served food in their room. They have been strictly asked to stay inside the room and not venture out,” said a senior NRAI official.

The teams have been allotted separate buses now, and foreign shooters have been asked not to move out in groups. “There have been some reports of bio-bubble breach by foreign shooters and NRAI has intimated the technical director of the tournament. They have been asked to strictly follow all the protocols. Athletes need to be more serious in following the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs),” the official said.

India rapid fire pistol shooter Anish Bhanwala is in contention for an Olympic quota through world ranking. Two of his teammates have tested positive. His event will begin on Thursday. “It is a concern for the team. We stayed in a bio bubble during training and the trials and there was no positive case,” said a national coach. Though spectators are not allowed, NRAI has issued two passes each for family members of Indian shooters who wish to visit the range.

ISSF secretary general Alexander Ratner said they are taking every possible step to protect the athletes. “This World Cup is very important for us,” said Ratner. “It is happening after a year and it will determine 12 individual quota places for the Tokyo Olympics,” he said.

“The organizing committee has made efforts to see that so many countries are able to come here and feel safe to compete for quota places for the ranking points and preparation towards the Olympics. I am absolutely sure the organising committee will take all steps according to national regulations and Covid-19 regulation.”

Asked about the bubble breach, he said, “We will do everything possible to guarantee that it doesn't happen again.”

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