Bio-bubble tightened as 5 shooters test Covid positive at World Cup

Published on Mar 21, 2021 11:27 PM IST

Organisers are also worried over incidents of shooters participating in the prestigious event going out of the sanitised areas with the competition still to run for another week

5 shooters test Covid positive at World Cup: Representational image(HT)
5 shooters test Covid positive at World Cup: Representational image(HT)
ByAvishek Roy, New Delhi

One of the two Indian rapid-fire pistol shooters who tested positive for Covid on Saturday reported negative to a second test in the hospital on Sunday. The positive cases from the ISSF World Cup here stand at five, including three Indians.

The rising Covid positive cases among Indian shooters have left the organisers and the Indian contingent concerned. There have also been reports of bio-bubble breach by shooters at the World Cup.

Following the adverse reports, the 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 Tokyo Olympics will be distributed from the event. The tournament runs for another week. Around 300 shooters from 53 countries are participating. India has fielded 57 shooters.

“Everyone is being repeatedly tested at the range—shooters, support staff, coaches, jury, technical members. All precautions are being taken,” a senior NRAI official said.

“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 their rooms and not venture out,” a senior NRAI official said.

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. His teammate testing positive raised an alarm. His event is from Thursday. “It is a concern for the team. We stayed in a bio-bubble during training and the trials but there was no positive case,” said a national coach. Though spectators have not been allowed, NRAI has issued two passes each for family members of Indian shooters.

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

Ratner said: “The organising 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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