Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday reviewed the initiatives undertaken by his ministry and Sports Authority of India (SAI) to keep the athletes engaged in the wake of the 21-day nation-wide lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic.
Rijiju held a meeting with regional directors of all SAI centres across the country through a video conference call and took a stock of the situation. He also deliberated upon measures needed to be taken once the lockdown is lifted.
Barring SAI South Centre, Bengaluru, where both the national men's and women's hockey teams are currently based and National Institute of Sports, Patiala, where a few athletes are still there, all other centres are vacant.
"The Minister held a review meeting off regional directors of all SAI centres in the presence of top SAI and Sports Ministry officials via video conference. The meeting was held to take a brief about what these centres are doing to keep the athletes' morale high and keep them engaged," a SAI official told PTI.
"The Minister also took feedbacks from SAI, Bengaluru and NIS Patiala centres on the steps they have taken to follow the lockdown guidelines in their premises as these are two centres where athletes are currently present. Athletes and coaches of all other centres have gone home," the official added.
Rijiju also reviewed the measures taken by all SAI centres to keep the athletes motivated and engaged in these difficult times.
"The Minister wanted to know from all the SAI centres how they are making maximum use of the lockdown period. Everyday, it is mandatory for all SAI athletes to connect with their coaches online so that they can monitor their training and physical fitness," the official said.
The athletes are also required to follow the live sessions of SAI everyday, where experts speak on various aspects of sports, including physical fitness, nutrition etc.
The SAI centres are also required to use this lockdown period to enhance their knowledge on various aspects, the official said.
The meeting was also attended by SAI Director General Sandip Pradhan, Sports Secretary Radhey Shyam Julaniya among other top officials.
The meeting also deliberated upon the way forward once the lockdown is lifted.
"The SAI and Ministry officials are constantly in touch with office-bearers of National Sports Federations (NSFs) and are discussing ways to rejig the Olympic preparation plans after the lockdown."
The Sports Minister also took to his official twitter handle to highlight the topics discussed in the meeting.
"All athletes who are home are connecting with coaches on digital platform every day to ensure training isn't hampered 2) athletes, coaches are enhancing knowledge with SAI's live sessions with experts. #IndiaFightsCorona," Rijiju's office tweeted.
"At the review meeting chaired by @kirenrijiju with senior SAI officials, he was briefed that elite athletes are being monitored by TOPS team for 1) How they are maintaining weight 2) How they are staying connected to their coach, nutritionist, strength and conditioning experts."
Rijiju also congratulated all athletes for following the lockdown guidelines.
"In the video conference with all regional directors of SAI to review arrangements for athletes @KirenRijiju congratulates athletes for following strict discipline and the rules of the lockdown. Athletes staying at SAI camps have ensured they maintain social distancing and stay in," read the tweet.
It has been learnt that the Minister is scheduled to hold another such review meeting before the end of the national lockdown on the midnight of April