Bhaichung Bhutia highlights COVID-19 impact on athletes, asks sportspersons to 'stay positive'

FORMER INDIAN CAPTAIN Bhaichung Bhutia weighed in on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic today, highlighting how it has affected sports and athletes across the country.

Appearing on NDTV, Bhaichung talked about how the suspension of sporting activities across the world, including the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, has affected sportspersons,

"I was talking to Leander Paes a few weeks ago, I was also listening to Mary Kom. I think they were preparing for the Olympics which was this year. Especially for athletes who are... towards the end of their career... a one year postponement of any big event like the Olympics which you've been waiting for four years, it makes a big, big difference for their performance. So I feel a little worried about them, but... I was speaking to Leander and he was very very positive that he will stay fit and give his best even if it's delayed for a year."

For Indian football, the lockdown has been harsh; the I-League season had to be ended prematurely, the 2nd Division League did not take place at all. The Indian national team's World Cup Qualifiers were postponed. But most importantly, the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup which was due to be held in India later this year, was postponed to 2021.

Talking about how athletes should deal with this massive impasse, Bhaichung advised positivity and not giving up on preparations,

"I think athletes around the world and especially in India should stay positive... over the last one month the government has allowed athletes to go and start training, so I think they should be starting to work out. It's very important for them to keep fit."

Bhaichung emphasized on the need for the people to be proactive when it comes to the novel coronavirus; saying that people should pre-emptively build their immunities. He pointed out that certain foods and health practices indigeous to this country can be used worldwide to achieve that goal,

"What I don't see from the government of India is promoting health to people in different countries... also building immunities... some of the few things you can eat, drink to build your immunity. We should focus on keeping not just our sporspersons but all the people in India fit and healthy during this pandemic. If you can do your yoga, go for morning walks or jogs... we have a lot of spices in India that can really build immunity. I think these are small things, we can start taking precautions rather than focusing on medicines after one gets affected."

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