New Delhi: Asian Games gold medal-winning wrestler Vinesh Phogat has tested positive for the dreaded coronavirus. She was tested by the Indian government as per the protocol as she was to receive the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, the country’s top sports accolade, in New Delhi on Saturday.
“My test was done yesterday and it came positive. I am at home in Bhiwani right now. Now, my family members will also get tested tomorrow. I still didn’t feel any symptoms. I am absolutely fine,” Vinesh told IANS. “I will miss the award ceremony.”
Vinesh, the only Indian woman wrestler to have qualified for Tokyo Olympics, had earlier pulled out of the national camp citing health safety concerns amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Her decision and subsequent withdrawals by other wrestlers eventually forced the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to postpone the camp for Olympic weight category wrestlers, which was scheduled to begin from September 1 in Lucknow.
Speaking to IANS, Vinesh had said, “I am not going to attend the camp. I am training everyday with coach Om Parkash. The situation is not good to travel to Lucknow.”
Whereas, the men’s wrestling national will start as per schedule on September 1 in SAI Sonepat with Bajrang Punia, Narsingh Yadav, Deepak Punia, Ravi Kumar in attendance. All of them, barring Narsingh, who is returning to the wrestling fold after serving a four-year doping ban, have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics which is scheduled to be held in 2021.
Meanwhile, the competition committee of Athletics Federation of India (AFI) decided to defer the start of its national-level competitions in a meeting on Friday. It had been hoping to resume competitions on September 12 with an AFI Grand Prix in Patiala.
The National Open Athletics Championships, slated for September 20 to 24 and the Federation Cup, due from October 5 to 9, have also been postponed.
“It would be advisable if the coaches redraw the training schedules of athletes. We are now looking at October end or early November for some competitions for seniors and late November for Juniors,” AFI President Adille J. Sumariwalla said. “At no point of time do we want to risk the health of our athletes by rushing them into competition with uncertainty and doubt uppermost in their minds,” he said
Earlier, six hockey players in the men’s team and shuttler N Sikki Reddy and physiotherapist Kiran C had tested positive for Covid-19.