Swimmers upset over their sport becoming a ‘soft target’ when it comes to COVID-19 curbs
Swimmers, including Tokyo Olympics hopeful Srihari Nataraj, are upset that their sport has become a soft target when it comes to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Swimming Federation of India (SFI) has repeatedly appealed to the government to make a distinction between recreational and competitive swimming. Public pools with lax COVID-19 safety guidelines could be a concern, but competitive swimming training — guarded by strict rules and oversight — poses no threat, the SFI explained. “There is no distinction being made between recreational and competitive swimming. Athletes who are currently training should be allowed to continue,” veteran swimming coach and Dronacharya Award winner Nihar Ameen said.
Fortunately, the national camp for elite swimmers concluded at the Padukone-Dravid Center for Sports Excellence on March 22. However, a few international swimmers such as Nataraj and Kenisha Gupta had continued to train in the city.
The closure of pools also affects national- and State-level swimmers — both senior and junior — who were looking forward to finally getting their feet wet in official championships.
Swimming was among the last sports to restart after restrictions imposed during the national lockdown were eased last year. A second big hurdle came on Friday when the Karnataka government decided to close pools after a spike in COVID-19 cases. For now, no restrictions have been placed on the conduct of other sports.
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