Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday said athletes arriving back from high-risk COVID-19 affected countries will have to be in mandatory quarantine but refused to be drawn into speculation surrounding the Indian Premier League and the Tokyo Olympics.
Spelling out the protocol for athletes arriving from the most-affected countries China, South Korea, Iran, Italy, Spain, France and Germany, Rijiju said they will have to follow what has been mandated for everyone else.
“Athletes who are coming back from countries which are very prone to coronavirus will be quarantined as per the government provisions. There will be no exceptions. Anybody who has come from abroad is being put in isolation and athletes also have to adhere to it,” Rijiju said in New Delhi while talking to reporters.
Currently, chess ace Viswanathan Anand has self-isolated in Germany after travel restrictions delayed his return to India. Wrestler Vinesh Phogat and javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra are among the sportspersons to have cut short their training stints in parts of Europe to head back due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have put themselves in isolation after returning. He was also asked about Indian boxers, who have been seen at public events since returning from the Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Jordan after training in Italy before that.
“They have been tested and given coronavirus negative certificates by the International Olympic Committee. They are not in any danger but it is advisable that they stay in isolation,” he said.
Rijiju’s comments came on a day when his ministry advised national federations to suspend all competitions and selection trials till April 15.
The advisory also asked federations to ensure that Olympic-bound athletes train without interacting with anyone who is not a part of the camps.
“We have made exceptions only for those who have qualified for Olympics and those who are on verge of qualifying. They are allowed to train in national camps. Outsiders are completely prohibited,” he said.
Asked about the fate of the IPL, which was suspended from March 20 to April 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rijiju side-stepped the query.
“Government will come up with new guidelines and advisory after April 15. BCCI is a body which handles cricket, which is not an Olympic sport. Here it is not a question of Olympic sports, it is about well being of every citizen. Thousands of people come to watch,” he said.
On the speculation that the July-August Olympics may not go ahead as planned due to the health crisis, Rijiju reiterated that conjecture should be avoided at all times.
“Nobody should raise a question about the Olympics at the moment, nobody knows what the situation will be in three months time.
“However we have to respond to an emerging situation as per the directions of the international bodies and respective sovereign governments,” he said.