The National Rifle Association of India on Monday said it will “firm up” plans to resume outdoor training of shooters after the home ministry permitted reopening of sports complexes during the fourth phase of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The national federation had locked the gates of all the shooting ranges in the country with the enforcement of the nationwide lockdown in March to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.
NRAI president Raninder Singh sounded optimistic a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines permitted reopening of sports complexes and stadia.
“We shall firm up plans to resume athlete training and competitions accordingly soon,” Raninder told PTI.
“Having said that, whatever is done will be done keeping the health of our athletes, coaches and staff as top priority,” added the federation’s top official, under whose leadership the shooters blossomed into world beaters.
Raninder welcomed the move, weeks after he saw the ISSF World Cup in New Delhi, originally scheduled to be held in March, cancelled due to the unprecedented global health crisis.
“We welcome the new MHA guidelines permitting the opening up of sports complexes and stadia.”
The pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, has also led to the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, where the Indian shooters were primed for success.
But all that is history now and the NRAI boss is trying to look ahead with optimism after the latest order.
“Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open, however, spectators won’t be allowed,” read one of the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines to be followed during the lockdown, which was due to end on Monday but has been extended till May 31.
India has recorded over 95,000 COVID-19 cases so far with nearly 3000 deaths.
In the latest guidelines, sport continues to be listed alongside the functions, gatherings and large congregations which are not allowed as of now.
Last week, Olympic bronze-medallist Gagan Narang said shooting has a realistic chance of opening up its outdoor training facilities sooner than other disciplines as it is a non-contact sport with shooters in possession of their equipment at all times.
He said social distancing can be easily followed in shooting ranges.
Coaches and athletes housed at NIS, Patiala and Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru centre have been demanding resumption of outdoor training within the regional centre’s premises.