India to skip Changwon World Cup in April due to Covid quarantine

India will not compete in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in April in Changwon because of stricter 14-day Covid-related quarantine rules in South Korea, the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) said on Monday.

India’s Olympic hopefuls were to get crucial exposure at the World Cup before going to Tokyo for Games beginning on July 23.

“Athletes participating in the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) World Cup in Changwon from April 16 to 27 will not be exempted from the mandatory two weeks quarantine rule. We don’t know how many shooters from other countries will compete, but we have opted out of the competition,” an NRAI official told IANS.

The World Cup was part of the Indian shooters’ training programme as part of Olympic preparations, crucially as Korea and Japan have a similar time zone, said a national level coach. “Confining to four walls of the room for two weeks in isolation and then competing isn’t practical,” the coach said about skipping the World Cup.

Now, the 15 Indian shooters who have earned Olympic quota places will be seen in action at the 64th National Shooting Championship starting from April 10 at different venues.

Shooters from around the world were looking forward to competing at the National Test event in Tokyo from April 25. But it was cancelled due to Covid19.

“Yet another change in programme in preparation for Olympic Games. Training at the same venue would have been beneficial. To get a feel of the ranges before the actual competition is very important. But that too isn’t happening now,” said the coach.

The Baku World Cup in Azerbaijan, slated for June, will be the last international competition before the Tokyo Olympics, to be held from July 23-August 8.

At part of the Indian national calendar, resuming in April, the shotgun and pistol events will be conducted at New Delhi’s Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges while rifle competition will be held at Bhopal Shooting Academy Ranges in Madhya Pradesh.

“The competition is being conducted at different venues to have less number of shooters at one place due to Covid-19,” was the reason an NRAI official gave to organise the national competition at two venues.

All quota winners will compete at the New Delhi World Cup from March 18 to 29, to be conducted at Dr Karni Singh Shooting Ranges.

The national squad had last participated in the 2019 Asian Shooting Championships — the last Olympic qualification competition — held at Doha in November. After the pandemic disrupted the global calendar at the beginning of March last year, the sports activity came to halt.