COVID IMPACT: SAI announces three-week 'summer vacation' at national centres of excellence

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New Delhi, Apr 9 (PTI) The Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Friday announced a three-week 'summer vacation' at its National Centres of Excellence owing to the relentless spike in COVID-19 cases but said that the Olympic-bound will continue to train at their ongoing camps.

India has been reporting over 1 lakh cases for the past few days with the numbers crossing more than 1.32 lakh in the last 24 hours.

'In view of the rising cases of COVID-19 across India and keeping the health and safety of athletes in mind, the Sports Authority of India has taken the decision to allow summer vacations across all National Centres of Excellence (NCOEs) for a period of three weeks,' SAI said in a statement.

The move, however, will not impact the Olympic-bound athletes.

'...elite athletes who are part of the National Camps and are training for Olympics and other international competitions at the NCOEs will continue to stay and train in their respective campuses.

'Their sparring partners will also be allowed to train with them. Athletes who have to attend classes or have to appear in examinations will be allowed to stay in the campus and will be provided all facilities.

'All athletes and staff who stay back will undergo weekly RT PCR test.' The decision comes after testing at its centres in Patiala, Bengaluru and Sonepat threw up significant number of positive cases among athletes and support staff.

However, none of the affected athletes were Tokyo-bound.

SAI said it will arrange for the safe return of all NCOE athletes who are heading home.

'Athletes will be provided air tickets from the NCOE to the nearest airport of their hometown and those living within a 500-km radius will be given AC 3 Tier train tickets,' it stated.

As stated in the latest SAI SOP, the nodal sports body will conduct weekly RT-PCR tests for athletes, coaches and support staff who stay back on campus to ensure close monitoring of the COVID situation.

SAI conducted mass precautionary RT-PCR tests at NCOEs in Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Sonepat and Lucknow. Out of 1477 tests that were conducted in these centres, only 17 people tested positive which is 1.15 per cent of the total tests done. PTI AH PM PM