Javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, who has qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, is returning home from his training base in Turkey owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many countries to shut their doors to passengers arriving from outside.
The 22-year-old Chopra has been training in Turkey for the last one month. He qualified for the Tokyo Games in a competition in South Africa with a throw of 87.86m, having made his return from an elbow surgery last year.
“Turkey is closing its borders on March 18 and Neeraj has to fly out before that. He is reaching home on Wednesday,” an official of the Athletics Federation of India told PTI.
“He (Neeraj) is also not taking part in the Doha leg of the Diamond League on April 17,” he added.
The Diamond League organisers on Tuesday announced that the first three legs of the elite Diamond League, beginning with Doha, will be postponed.
Another Indian javelin thrower Shivpal Singh, who has also qualified for the Tokyo Games, is also returning home from his Potchefstroom – his training base – in South Africa.
“Shivpal is also returning from South Africa. There will be no Indian left training abroad. In this situation, you never know when a country closes its borders or cancels flights. We cannot take chances as athletes may remain stranded,” the AFI official said.
The 24-year-old Shivpal had crossed the qualifying standard of 85m by hurling the spear to a distance of 85.47m in the ACNW Meeting at Potchefstroom earlier this month to join Chopra as the second Indian to qualify for the Olympics in javelin throw.