As India continues to take measures in face of the coronavirus pandemic and sport has come to a standstill with the Ministry asking for all training camps to halt, India’s women’s wrestling coach Andrew Cook has returned home to USA while Bajrang Punia’s coach Shako Bentinidis is staying back with him in Sonipat.
Cook took leave and left on Tuesday night after the Wrestling Federation of India suspended national camps. “It was risky to stay in India with no plan and 90% of the population unaware of the problem,” Cook told The New Indian Express.
“Cook applied for leave after the camp was suspended,” Vinod Tomar, WFI’s assistant secretary, told the newspaper.
The American said he is available via video conference for his wrestlers and that he will return India when the federation wants him. He is willing to go into the mandatory quarantine if he returns as well.
According to a report by The Indian Express, Cook’s father Jack suffers from a lung disease and he wanted to spend some time with him as well. His wife is a nurse and has been working on the front line.
For Punia’s Georgian coach Bentinidis, going back is not a good option because he is unsure when he will be able to return and doesn’t want to leave the wrestler alone for a long time. He said his family is worried and call him daily asking him to wear a mask and not go out.
“It’s a difficult situation for my family. Before the ongoing training camp, I would have called my wife here but now India has cancelled all tourist visas. Now, even if I wanted to go to Georgia for maybe a week or 10 days – especially considering there isn’t any practice for a while – I don’t know when I’ll be able to return. Maybe I’ll be quarantined in a hospital for 15 days because of coronavirus when I come back to India. Also, Bajrang shouldn’t be without a coach for two weeks — without me here, it becomes a little difficult,” he told The Indian Express.
He mentioned that he has put down some strict rules in Sonipat so that his wrestlers don’t get infected.