The much-awaited Indian Grand Prix IV will be held at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala on June 21, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) has announced in a statement.
The AFI will also conduct the Inter-State Athletics Championships at the same venue four days later. Both the Indian Grand Prix IV and the Inter-State meet will serve as the last qualifying events for Tokyo Olympics.
At a time when their foreign counterparts are having plenty of international competition ahead of the Games, India's track and field athletes have been deprived of the same owing to the country’s COVID-19 situation.
Indian relay teams were forced to withdraw from the World Athletics Relays in Poland at the last minute due to flight cancelation.
To make matters worse, India's 40-member contingent won’t be competing at the T. Kolpakova International in Bishkek and the Qosanov Memorial meet in Almaty due to recent changes in quarantine rules. While the T. Kolpakova International is scheduled for June 12 and 13, the Qosanov Memorial meet is on June 19 and 20.
“The decision to organise Indian Grand Prix IV was taken to provide additional competition to Indian athletes as a 40-member team will not be competing in the upcoming T. Kolpakova International in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and the Qosanov Memorial meet in Almaty, Kazakhstan,” the AFI said in a statement on June 9.
“The Athletics Federation of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Athletics Federation of Kyrgyz Republic informed AFI via e-mails that new restrictive measures mandating 14-day isolation had been ordered for those arriving from India, regardless of a negative PCR test or even a vaccination certificate,” the statement further read.
AFI doesn't want athletes to go through 14-day isolation
AFI president Adille Sumariwalla said in the same statement they didn’t want the athletes to go through a 14-day mandatory quarantine. With less than 50 days to go for the Olympics, a two-week quarantine will only hamper the athletes’ momentum, mindset as well as their training sessions.
“We do not want to impact the training schedule of our athletes by making them go through a 14-day quarantine process with six weeks left for the Olympic Games,” said AFI president Adille Sumariwalla.
Earlier, the AFI had successfully conducted the Indian Grand Prix I and II in February while the third edition was held in March.
The men's events at the Indian Grand Prix IV include 400m, 1500m, long jump, triple jump, shot put, javelin throw and 400m hurdles. The Indian Grand Prix IV women’s events will be in 100m, 200m, 400m, 1500m, 5000m, discus throw, javelin throw and 4x100m relay.
Among the stars to be in action at the Indian Grand Prix IV will be Hima Das and Dutee Chand, who are in a race against time for Tokyo Olympics qualification.