New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) The Poland-bound national men and women’s relay squads were grounded by the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) on Wednesday due to rising Covid-19 cases in India.
The national men’s 4x400m and women’s 4×100 relay squads were supposed to compete in World Relays in the Polish city of Chorzow on May 1 and 2. They were to reach Chorzow via Amsterdam.
However, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) was informed by KLM that the Indian athletes can’t board the flight to Amsterdam from Mumbai due to latest travel restrictions imposed on Indian travellers by the Netherlands government.
“We are very disappointed at this moment. There are no direct flights between India and Poland. This meant that despite the best efforts, the squad could not be sent by another airlines to Poland,” said Adille Sumariwalla, president of the Athletics Federation of India.
The World Relays, a qualifying competition for Tokyo Olympics as well as 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, USA, is scheduled to be held on May 1 and 2 in Chorzow.
The national team is training in Patiala’s National Institute of Sports (NIS).
“For the last 24 hours, we have been consistently trying to find an alternative route. We have used all the resources to sort this out. We have been constantly speaking to World Athletics, the organisers of World Relays. We have also spoken to various consulates and airlines. Under the present scenario, nobody has obliged,” said Sumariwalla.
National record holder in women’s 100m Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Dhanalaxmi Sekhar, Archana Suseentran, Daneshwari TA and Himashree Roy were the main athletes shortlisted for the women’s 4x100m squad.
Muhammed Anas, Rajiv Arokia, Amoj Jacob, Nirmal Noah Tom and Sarthak Bhambri were the key runners in the men’s 4x400m team.
Earlier last week, the AFI had dropped the women’s 4x400m relay team from Poland as two runners were unfit to compete.