By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) - An Indian judo team has been forced to withdraw from an Olympic qualifying competition in Kyrgyzstan after two athletes from the contingent tested positive for COVID-19 in their second round of testing after arriving in the capital city of Bishkek.
The 15 Indian athletes and four coaches at the ongoing Asia-Oceania Judo Championships have been isolated while the two judokas, who tested positive for the virus, did not have any major symptoms.
The Sports Authority of India, a unit of the sports ministry which oversees training of the athletes, said the athletes underwent two tests before leaving India and another one after arrival in Kyrgyzstan.
All three tests showed negative results for the virus but a fourth test, conducted a day before the competition, returned positive for the two judokas.
"The players are safe in a hotel with their daily requirements being looked after," SAI said in a statement, adding that the authorities were working towards bringing the players back safely to India.
The country reported a record 115,736 new cases on Wednesday, a 13-fold increase in just over two months, as its COVID-19 infections swelled to 12.8 million. It is the third worst hit nation behind United States and Brazil.
The SAI centre in the central Indian city of Bhopal reported 36 positive cases - 24 athletes and 12 staff - from tests conducted on Saturday and Tuesday.
"However, none of the athletes who have tested positive are Olympic-bound," SAI said. "It is SAI's utmost effort to ensure containment of the spread of virus.
"Therefore, the athletes who tested positive have been shifted to hospital as a precautionary measure. None of the athletes are critical."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Christian Radnedge)