New Delhi shooting camp postponed due to Covid-19 surge

Rahi Sarnobat is one of six members of India's Olympic squad not based in the National Capital Region. Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The Indian national shooting camp that was to begin in New Delhi on Tuesday has been postponed due to the worsening situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in the city. New Delhi, which recorded over 25,000 new cases of the virus on Sunday, will go into a week-long lockdown starting on Tuesday. "Due to the second wave of Covid-19, we have had to postpone the national camp," Raninder Singh, the president of the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), said.

While the athletes could have stayed in the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel at the Karni Singh Shooting Range where they were to train, the lockdown has played a role in the NRAI's decision. "There are cases coming up everywhere in New Delhi. We are also going into a lockdown from Tuesday. So it would be difficult to conduct the camp in these circumstances."

The NRAI will have a meeting on Monday evening, following which new dates for the camp will be announced. According to some NRAI officials, the camp will likely be postponed until the first week of May. The camp was the first to be announced after a 15-member squad for the Olympics was named by the NRAI.

India's shooting team has already been impacted by Covid-19. Divyansh Panwar, one of the strongest medal hopes for India, had tested positive for the virus last year but had since recovered. At the New Delhi World Cup last month, another three members of the Indian squad tested positive. A fourth also tested positive initially only to test negative in a retest.

The last time India went into a lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus in March last year, several of the shooters had been stranded in New Delhi. None of the shooters in the squad are likely to be stranded in the capital since they had been informed to stay at home until the NRAI made a final announcement about the status of the camp. Of the 15 members of the Olympic squad, most - with the exception of Apurvi Chandela, Elavenil Valarivan, Anjum Moudgil, Tejaswini Sawant, Rahi Sarnobat and Yashaswini Deswal -- are based around the NCR region.

"All the shooters who were based outside the NCR region were told a couple of days ago to keep their travel plans on hold because the situation was uncertain. We told them that we would update them after speaking to Sports Authority of India. Because of that, all our shooters are safe at their home," said a coach with the national team.

As it stands, those shooters will have to train at their home venues. "The safety of our athletes is our primary concern," said Raninder.

Shooting isn't the only sport whose national camp has been suspended owing to the pandemic. The wrestling national camps in Lucknow and Sonepat were also suspended after several coaches and athletes in the women's camp in Lucknow tested positive. Although WFI officials said the camps would begin at the end of April, this is still a tentative prospect. As a result of the camps being shut down, it is unlikely that a trial to select the squad for the World Olympic qualifier can be held.