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Covid-19 travel restrictions is a dampener for archery camp

Travel restrictions in the Covid-19 era has put on hold plans of top archers to join Olympic preparation camp in the recurve event that got underway at Army’s Institute of Sports in Pune, Maharashtra, from Tuesday.

Among those who couldn’t join camp is country’s leading female archer Deepika Kumari, who had recently married fellow archer and Olympian Atanu Das. The couple staying in Kolkata, said Pramod Chandurkar, general secretary of Archery Federation of India (AAI), have expressed their inability to join the camp as there is issue of getting a direct flight from Kolkata to Pune that is under lockdown till August 31. ‘’The situation is such that we have to relax the norms to meet the deadline for joining the camp,’’ he added.

The national governing body in coordination with Sports Authority of India (SAI) had shortlisted 16 top archers including eight in the female group for the preparatory camp resuming after a gap of six months.

Of the 16 probables, less than half the number could make it. Haryana’s teenage archer Ridhi Phor, ranked fourth in the country will most probably join the camp in mid September as she is self quarantine in her home town Karnal. Her father said: ‘’Someone in the family had tested positive for covid19 recently. So we aren’t taking risk to send her for the camp.’’

Uttar Pradesh International archer Vishwas and Jayanta Talukdar based out of Jamshedpur too are expected to join the camp in September, says Chandurkar due to pandemic. ‘’They are also facing some problem due to covid19,’’ he added.

Even Gunitha Devi from Manipur nominated to oversee the women’s group will join the camp later while Army’s MB Gurung will take over the men’s team.

As per SAI’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to conduct the national camps, all players and coaching staff except those already training in the Army campus like Tarundeep Rai and Pravin Jadhav, will have to undergo 14-day mandatory quarantine.

This is first time women’s team will have accommodation inside the Army campus since 2013. Restrictions were put on the women’s camp as Assam’s international archer Pratima Boro had committed suicide during the national camp. She was found hanging from a ceiling fan of her hostel room.

Perhaps this could be one of the reasons, female archers are unhappy with move to stay inside. ‘’There was no warden for women’s hostel then. Hope federation makes arrangement this time,’’ one for the archer said on condition of anonymity.

After the 2013 incident, women’s squad were put outside the Army campus, says Chandurkar, but this time due to surge in positive cases for covid19 in the region, it has been decided to give accommodation inside.

According to Chandurkar, the women’s team coach will also act as hostel warden. ‘’We hope she will manage,’’ he added.

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