Hima Das and many others athletes are not happy with the quality of food at India's premier sports facility, Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports (NS-NIS) in Patiala. Various athletes are currently residing in NIS, Patiala as they train for their respective sports amid coronavirus fears. A few days ago, NIS was in news for breach of social distancing protocols by its staff members and violation of quarantine rules by two Olympic-bound boxers. Now, it is the food quality that shows the facility in poor light.
According to a Times of India report, Hima and a few other athletes has complained about the quality of food and the hygiene in the kitchen in mid-August. The complaint prompted Sports Authority of India into setting up a 'Food Inspection Committee' to ensure the quality of meals. TOI claims that its sources say that Hima complaint was regarding human nails found in her food of which she even took pictures and sent to NIS administration.
Hima reportedly took up the matter directly with Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, who instructed the SAI authorities to get in touch with the athletes. SAI director general, Sandip Pradhan, secretary SAI, Rohit Bhardwaj, and other officials reportedly held a virtual meeting with Hima and other complaining athletes to understand the issue.
TOI also quoted its sources saying that athletes complained about hair in the food and kitchen staff sneezing into their hands and not washing or sanitising them.
"Some athletes had raised an issue about the quality of food at the mess at NS NIS, Patiala in mid-August. As soon as it was brought to notice, immediate corrective action was taken to ensure that even one-off issues of this nature are not faced by athletes. A review meeting was held with officials, staff and players on the same day and instructions were issued to ensure that the quality of food is as per the requirement of the athletes. Feedback from athletes confirm that the quality of food is as per their liking and requirement," SAI was quoted as saying in a statement to TOI.
"As per policy, SAI has set up a Food Inspection Committee and is also strengthening the kitchen staff at NIS. A food helpline number has also been set up to order food items of athletes' choice," the statement added.
The statement also had a quote from Hima, where she said, "Our concern was addressed immediately. We had said that we were not happy with the quality of cooking. And ever since we raised the concern, the quality of cooking has really improved."