Within a week of opening up, Indian badminton's national camp for Olympic hopefuls has been brought to an abrupt halt, as doubles player Sikki Reddy and physio Kiran Challagundla have both tested positive for COVID-19 at the SAI Pullela Gopichand academy.
Four top Indian badminton players - PV Sindhu, Sai Praneeth, Kidambi Srikanth and Sikki, had joined the training camp for Olympic hopefuls which had resumed after nearly a four-month hiatus, on August 7, following the Telangana government's approval.
SAI said that both Sikki are Kiran are asymptomatic and the academy has been closed for sanitisation. Primary contacts of both have been traced and are being given the RT PCR test again.
Of the four players, Sindhu had insisted on training alone in an early 6:30-8:30 am slot, with just coach Park Tae-Sang, Gopichand and her father in attendance. The remaining three members trained together although on different courts. Following morning sessions with Sindhu, Gopichand was part of sessions involving the other batch of players, which included Sikki. It is understood that while Kiran tended to other players, Sindhu did not seek physio assistance at any point during her sessions and usually left the academy before the other players showed up for training.
Players, coaches and support staff as well as Sindhu's father - 21 of them - underwent tests on Tuesday, and Sikki's and Kiran's results returned positive on Thursday. The remaining 19 members have tested negative.
Four more players - Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap, Chirag Shetty and Satwiksairaj Rankireddy - were expected to join the camp in a couple weeks' time. Saina, and husband Kashyap, who are based in Hyderabad, began training at a separate facility earlier this week. Chirag, who is in Mumbai and Satwiksairaj, in Amalapuram, Andhra Pradesh, chose to wait it out after the academy opened last week.