India’s star javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra is returning home from his training base in Turkey owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced many countries to shut their doors to passengers arriving from outside. Neeraj has qualified for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics 2020. The 22-year-old has been training in Turkey from last one month. He qualified for the Tokyo Games in a competition in South Africa with a throw of 87.86m, having made his return from elbow surgery last year. Also Read - Central Railway to Run 3 Special Parcel Trains to Transport Essential Commodities During Lockdown
“Turkey is closing its borders on March 18 and Neeraj has to fly out before that. He is reaching home on Wednesday,” an official of the Athletics Federation of India was quoted by PTI. Also Read - New Dates For Tokyo Olympics Likely This Week, Says Organising Committee President
“He (Neeraj) is also not taking part in the Doha leg of the Diamond League on April 17,” he added. Also Read - Boston Celtics Guard Marcus Smart 'Corona-Free', 10 Days After Testing Positive
The Diamond League organisers on Tuesday announced that the first three legs of the elite Diamond League, beginning with Doha, will be postponed.
Another Indian javelin thrower Shivpal Singh, who has also qualified for the Tokyo Games, is also returning home from his Potchefstroom — his training base — in South Africa.
“Shivpal is also returning from South Africa. There will be no Indian left training abroad. In this situation, you never know when a country closes its borders or cancels flights. We cannot take chances as athletes may remain stranded,” the AFI official.
The 24-year-old Shivpal had crossed the qualifying standard of 85m by hurling the spear to a distance of 85.47m in the ACNW Meeting at Potchefstroom earlier this month to join Chopra as the second Indian to qualify for the Olympics in the javelin throw.
The central government on Monday issued an advisory expanding compulsory quarantine for a minimum period of 14 days for passengers coming from/transiting through UAE, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait.
It further prohibited travel of passengers from member countries of the European Union, the European Free Trade Association, Turkey and the United Kingdom to India with effect from March 18.