Indian shuttlers Ajay Jayaram and Subhankar Dey were forced to pull out of the $90,000 SaarLorLux Open in Saarbrucken, Germany, late on Wednesday after coming into contact with DK Sen, teammate Lakshya’s father and coach who tested positive for Covid-19.
Lakshya Sen too pulled out of the Super 100 event earlier on Wednesday once his father’s result was out.
Jayaram, Dey and Lakshya will have to remain in quarantine till November 10 while DK Sen’s confinement period is till November 6. He’ll be released if he shows no symptoms 48 hours before the quarantine period ends.
Frustrated about their situation, Dey and Jayaram, who had travelled to Europe for vital international exposure on their own, relaxed after Sports Authority of India (SAI) announced it will meet the expenses during their quarantine period (till Nov 10) “on humanitarian grounds”.
A SAI statement on Thursday said: “SAI will be paying a total of Rs.1.46 lakh for their hotel stay and food expenses and will release 90 percent of the amount immediately.”
Lakshya’s trip and participation is funded by the government’s Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS), which also covers the expenses of DK Sen and physiotherapist Abhishek Wagh.
It was the last leg of their Europe trip, and it ended in disappointment after DK Sen tested positive. Protocols mandated players and coaching staff at the event to get tested 48 hours before arrival, or immediately on reaching. Jayaram and Dey tested negative on Friday night and flew out of Vienna, their training base, on Sunday. Lakshya, his father and Wagh didn’t take the test in Denmark—where they were training—or immediately on reaching Germany.
They took the test after DK Sen attended the manager’s meeting on Tuesday and was told the test was mandatory. His test returned a positive result on Tuesday night. Lakshya and Wagh were negative.
Dey and Jayaram blamed the organisers and the Sen camp for their plight. “Owing to one of the players failing to follow the covid protocol and the organisers failing to enforce the protocols set in place, I and subhankar have found ourselves in an unfortunate situation…” Jayaram said on Thursday.
They said BWF’s pandemic protocol was not strictly enforced and questioned why only they had to quarantine when DK Sen was in the training hall where other players too practiced. The Indian players had trained together on Monday and even gone for lunch together.
“I fail to understand why they didn’t enforce the submission of Covid-negative certificates immediately on arrival, the way it was done in Denmark,” said Dey, referring to the October 13-18 Denmark Open. “Now we’re suffering and not being able to play. This is unfair as all other players were training together on Monday.”
DK Sen said they were tested twice in Denmark where Lakshya trained at the Peter Gade Academy after the Open. “We thought like Denmark Open we will be tested by the organisers. We took the test the moment we were told,” said Sen, who is in isolation and asymptomatic. “It’s not that we didn’t want to get tested. The moment I found out I was positive, Lakshya pulled out and went into quarantine.”
The shuttlers are concerned because German government has imposed a month’s lockdown from November 2 due to a spurt in Covid-19 cases. Bundesliga matches will also be held behind closed doors again.
“We’ll get stuck for a long time if we can’t return to India soon. We are absolutely fine and want to take the test again and return. Why are they not testing us now?” Dey asked. “The tournament officials have given us the contact of the local authorities who are not responding.”
Asked about it, SAI said it was “in constant touch with the Indian Consulate in Frankfurt to facilitate the situation involving the two players”.
Lakshya, the defending champion, and 2018 winner Dey had got first round byes. Jayaram had won the first round on Tuesday. Malvika Bansod lost in the women’s first round on Wednesday.
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