Twenty-six badminton players will be allowed to train at the Pullela Gopichand academy on the outskirts of Hyderabad as part of an expanded national camp from September 7 to 27, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) said in a statement on Sunday.
The expansion had been proposed by the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and national coach Pullela Gopichand keeping in mind the Thomas and Uber Cup which starts on October 3, SAI added.
National players already part of the camp are — Men’s singles player Sai Praneeth, P Kashyap and Kidambi Srikanth, Women’s doubles pair Sikki Reddy and Ashwini Ponappa and women’s singles player Saina Nehwal along with seven coaches, four support staff and three sparring partners.
Pre-empting the need for preparation of the Thomas and Uber Cup, SAI had held a meeting with all stakeholders on August 27 requesting a proposal on the camp to be held.
ALSO READ| PV Sindhu to Skip Uber Cup Due to ‘Personal Reasons’, Confirms PV Ramana
“The said proposal was received on September 5 following which another meeting was held with all stakeholders on September 6,” said SAI.
According to SAI, the initial proposal had said the players would reside in a hotel. However, it was eventually decided that the players would stay and play at the Pullela Gopichand academy itself, to ensure greater safety of players amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
The strength of the training camp is now 26, extending the list to include more players apart from the Olympic-bound athletes such as Sai Praneeth already training at the academy.
“All players, coaches and support staff would have to undergo a mandatory RT-PCR test for Covid-19 before they travel to Hyderabad and would only be allowed in the academy, once they produce Covid-19 negative certificate,” added SAI.
Once they are at the academy they will be isolated and tested again on the 6th day of the quarantine and would only be allowed in the field to play once they have cleared the second round of Covid-19 test.
Speaking about the decision, Pullela Gopichand said, “I am very happy that SAI and BAI have been proactive in ensuring that sporting activities can start early. I am happy this camp is starting because the Thomas and Uber Cup is an important tournament and I hope we get some good results there.”
The Thomas and Uber Cup is to be held in Aarhus, Denmark next month and would take place from October 3 to 11.