Tokyo Olympics 2021: Athletics Federation of India planning to move Indian GP, inter-state meet to Patiala

Hima Das is yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics
Hima Das is yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics

The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) is considering shifting next month's Indian Grand Prix and inter-state meet from Karnataka to Patiala after work on the synthetic track at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium suffered an indefinite delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indian GP is scheduled to take place on June 15 and the inter-state meeting on June 25. Both events were due to be held at Kanteerava, but the AFI said the track would not be ready in time.

"The Karnataka Athletics Association has informed us that they are in no position to host the two meets as the track is not ready," an AFI official told the Times of India.
"So, Bengaluru is ruled out and the events will most probably be held in Patiala. We will observe the situation for another week and then make an announcement."

Events crucial for athletes looking to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Work at the Kanteerava Stadium has been affected due to a shortage of workers amid the pandemic, and is likely to resume in full swing only after the monsoon.

India is currently battling a second wave of the pandemic which has hampered the practice and training schedules of some of the country's top athletes. Many of these, including Neeraj Chopra, Avinash Sable and Muhammed Anas, have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.

Nitin Arya, manager of competition and operations for AFI, said the two events, which are crucial for athletes who are yet to make the cut for the Tokyo Olympics, would only go ahead if the situation gets better.

"Even in Patiala we can hold the meets only if the situation improves," he said. "The plan is to conduct the meets on the same dates. We are also trying to arrange another 1-2 meets before the qualification deadline ends on June 30."

The Indian GP will see Indian athletes return to action after a prolonged hiatus. Only those who have met the federation's qualification mark in the last 2-3 years will be allowed to take part.

The two meetings will likely take place behind closed doors as has been the norm for all major sporting events during the pandemic.

400m sprint sensation Hima Das, Asian Games gold medallist and star shot-putter Tajinderpal Toor, and Dutee Chand are among the most prominent Indian athletes yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Also read: Shot putter Tajinderpal Toor focussed on surpassing 21.10m mark to qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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