NEW DELHI: In May, the Indian government allowed reopening of stadiums and training activities, without spectators, to resume; but states like Maharashtra, where COVID-19 has wreaked havoc, haven’t yet brought such relaxations into effect. On the whole, many state governments are taking their individual calls related to resumption of sports activities, and India’s only Olympic medal-winning male boxer Vijender Singh believes it’s too big a risk to take by allowing India’s Olympic hopefuls to be exposed to the threat of the coronavirus.
“First you have to control the coronavirus. Every day we see in the news that there are a lot of cases, increasing every day. So first we should control the coronavirus, then we can think about that kind of thing (sports activities),” said Vijender talking to Timesofindia.com.
Contact sports like boxing and wrestling have been waiting to resume training, until a batch of male and female boxers started arriving at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Patiala last week for a camp.
These boxers include the likes of world No. 1 Amit Panghal and Simranjit Kaur, among others, who have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics that have been rescheduled for next year. Also, last month Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju expressed hope that sports competitions within the country could resume by August.
“If an athlete who has qualified for the Olympics gets infected unfortunately, then who will be responsible?” Vijender asked. “That’s my question to the government. I hope they understand that first we have to control the virus.”
Vijender, who won bronze in the 75-kg category at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and then went on to become the world No. 1 as well, has restricted himself at home and is spending time with his wife and two kids.
However, the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist, who turned to professional boxing in 2015, believes he is doing every bit to stay fit, while admitting that he will need close to two months of proper training to be fight-ready.
“I do a lot of conditioning exercises these days, sometimes I do cardio as well. I can say that I am fit. But as a professional fighter, you need 8 to 10 weeks (to get back to full fitness). Hopefully, we will get that time and be back into that hardcore training mode very soon,” said the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna winner, who is so far undefeated as a professional boxer.
It’s unlikely that international events would return anytime soon, but Vijender says he has been talking to his promoter Top Rank and hopes to have a couple of fights before the year ends.
“In 2020, I think I will go for one or two fights. Let’s see, I am looking forward to boxing again soon. We haven’t fixed any dates yet. My manager will speak to the Top Rank guys. So hopefully we will get to fight soon.”
“I am planning to start my proper training again and once international borders open, I will fly to the UK and train over there. That’s how it is right now. Let’s hope for the best.”
When asked what’s keeping him busy apart from light training, he was quick to reply.
“I have two kids, so hope you understand what’s keeping me busy (laughs).”