COVID shoots down Indian camp for Tokyo hopefuls

Fresh dates for the camp in Delhi for the Tokyo Olympics-bound shooters will be announced by the National Rifle Association of India at a later date.

By Utathya Nag

The compulsory national camp for the core group of Indian shooters chosen for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 has been deferred indefinitely by the national shooting federation (NRAI) due to the COVID-19 situation in the country.

The call was taken at an NRAI meeting held on Tuesday where the stakeholders met to review the decision to hold the national camp at the Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in Delhi from the first week of August.

New Delhi’s Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range was supposed to be the venue for an ISSF World Cup in March earlier this year.

“Under the prevailing conditions with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governing Body decided to defer the camp, till the time conditions are safer all-around as well as suitable for outstation travel,” the NRAI said in a statement.

Safety first for Indian shooters

Health and safety of shooters and coaches were thoroughly considered before taking the final decision.

The Dr Karni Singh Shooting Range in Delhi was opened for training to the 32-member core group of shooters, including the 15 Olympic quota winners and other hopefuls, from July 8 after the nationwide lockdown.

Members of the group like Manu Bhaker, Sanjeev Rajput, Sheeraz Sheikh, Mairaj Ahmad Khan and few others, mostly residing in or near the Delhi NCR region, took the opportunity to train at the venue.

Training was stopped temporarily last Thursday after one of the shooting coaches tested COVID-19 positive.

Indian shooters, however, were allowed to continue training at the facility as long as they adhered to strict safety protocols.

The incident, though, prompted a review of the decision to hold the national camp from the first week of August.

The shooting contingent - India’s largest-ever to any edition of the Summer Games - is expected to be one of India’s brightest medal hopes at the Tokyo Olympics next year.