The South Asian Athletics Federation (SAAF) Cross Country Championship, scheduled to be held in Nagaland on January 15, has been postponed due to a surge in Omicron cases in India, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) said on Friday.
“In a virtual meeting of the SAAF it was decided to postpone the SAAF Cross Country Championship due to travel restrictions in place due to the surge in Omicron pandemic in India,” the AFI said in a statement.
“In view of the health and safety concerns of the athletes, it was decided to reschedule the cross country event. Fresh dates will be announced in consultation with the authorities concerned," the statement added.
Athletes from Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Pakistan, apart from hosts India, were expected to compete in the one-day event in Kohima.
The AFI has also postponed the National Cross Country Championship, which was to be held concurrently.
Since December, AFI officials have been closely monitoring the pandemic in India. “The process of visa and other necessary arrangements for the smooth conduct of the SAAF Cross Country race was being done,” an AFI official said. “But the current situation is unpredictable and we don’t think it is a conducive environment to conduct domestic and international competition," he added.
Earlier this week, the AFI postponed the National Youth Athletics Championships due to the pandemic. The three-day competition was to be held in Bhopal from January 27.
The pandemic disrupted the 2020 competitive calendar. It was a challenging task for the AFI to hold its events in the 2021 season.
As per the AFI calendar, the National Open Race Walking Championship is to be held in Ranchi next month. The competition is significant for Indian athletes with the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships scheduled to be held in Oman on March 4 and 5.