India’s top weightlifters have requested Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju to allow them to resume training citing practice hall at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala facility is big enough to ensure social distancing. Also Read - Coronavirus: Cases in Pakistan Rise Above 69,470; Death Toll Nears 1,500-mark

Currently, nine wieghlifters including Mirabai Chanu, Youth Olympics gold-medallist Jeremy Lalrinnunga and two-time Commonwealth Games champion Sathish Sivalingam are at the camp in Patiala. Also Read - Bangladesh Reopens Offices, Transport Services Amid Spike in Coronavirus Cases

Training has been suspended at all Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres across the country since mid-March in wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, Rijiju has said elite athletes will be allowed to resume once the lockdown is lifted. Also Read - Amid Sharp GDP Data Revision, Debate Continues Over Its Fairness

“We all requested him to resume training as soon as possible because we need weight training. We have been working out but weight training is necessary for us,” Mirabai told PTI.

“The minister has said they will bring out a solution within this week or by May 17,” she added.

Rijiji spoke with the weightlifters regarding their views on resumption of training.

National coach Vijay Sharma also backed Mirabai, saying since the campus is sealed and the hall is big enough with nine weightlifters to train, there won’t be any concern.

“It’s been almost two months since training was stopped. All the muscle mass has finished. The campus is sealed no one is coming inside or going out, so we can resume training,” Sharma said.

“Our training hall is very big we can easily maintain a five metre distance between each weightlifter. We have 16 platforms and there are only nine weightlifters so we can easily maintain social distancing while training,” he added.

Apart from weightlifters, Rijiju will also interact with track-and-field athletes and the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams regarding the training resumption.

The video conference was also attended by SAI Director General Sandip Pradhan, Sports and Youth Affairs Secretary Ravi Mittal, officials from the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS) and the Indian Weightlifting Federation.