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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Delhi: Athletes, coaches turned away from stadiums despite DDMA order

The DDMA order on Sunday had stated that stadia/sports complexes are allowed to open without spectators.

Written by Ashna Butani | New Delhi |
Updated: July 6, 2021 11:00:04 am
Guards at the gates of Thyagaraj Sports Complex informed people that it would take a few more days to reopen. (File)

Athletes and coaches reached stadiums across the city Monday morning in the hopes of ending their dry spell and finally train, only to be sent back home and asked to return in a few days.

The DDMA order on Sunday had stated that stadia/sports complexes are allowed to open without spectators.

Guards at the gates of Thyagaraj Sports Complex informed people that it would take a few more days to reopen. Coaches said they got the same response from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium too.

Dinesh Rawat, Delhi’s chief coach, athletics, said athletes have been practising on grounds where they do not have proper tracks or space. He said his students need to prepare for the World U20 Athletics Championship, which is scheduled to take place in Kenya in August. Two athletes will qualify in the national round in Patiala and then go ahead to compete in the international championship, he said.

Rawat said, “There are three or four children in Delhi who are good and have a chance of making it. But we have lost a lot of time. They are currently being trained at Nehru Park, where there are no proper tracks.”

Rawat has written to the administration highlighting these concerns, and said many children and their parents have been enquiring about the reopening of stadiums.

A few people who had reached the Thyagaraj Sports Complex on Monday morning turned around disenchanted. Among them was Devinder Rawat, father of 17-year-old athlete Shubham Singh Rawat.

He was asked to come the next day to fill a form. “My son is currently training in Nehru Park. We hope the stadiums open soon so that he can train properly. He used to train for three hours in the morning and four hours in the evening. Now he barely gets two hours where there are no proper tracks, and it is crowded. Medals don’t just come like that. Children have to train and earn it,” he said.

Ali Ansari, a 19-year-old national silver medalist in decathlon, was also turned around on Monday. “All of last year went to waste, and three months of this year have gone down the drain as well. I intend on participating in the under-20 championship, and only one month is left for the nationals. We can run in parks but cannot work out.”

He used to train for eight hours every day previously, he said.

Later in the day, a guard at Thyagaraj said the administration is yet to have a meeting where they will decide when the stadium will open. Despite the DDMA’s order on Sunday, the stadium administration told coaches they are yet to receive written notices from the government stating that they can open.

Vipin Kumar, an assistant coach, highlighted similar concerns, adding that those who will be participating in the Olympics also need a ground to train. He said the training in Nehru Park has left many injured.

There were similar scenes outside R K Khanna Tennis Stadium in Hauz Khas. A guard said that once the stadium’s administration officially announces the reopening, staff and athletes can return.

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