Star sprinters Dutee Chand and Hima Das’ chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics took a hit after India were forced to skip the World Athletics Relays following the Netherlands’ decision to suspend all passenger flights arriving from Delhi.
The Indian relay teams were due to fly out in the wee hours on Thursday via a KLM flight from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.
The athletes would have had to transit through Amsterdam. But the latest restrictions, in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, scuppered India’s plans for the May 1-2 meet.
The Athletics Federation of India (AFI) was looking at alternatives so that the relay teams could reach Silesia in Poland, but the plans failed.
The AFI later took to Twitter to announce that they were unable to make arrangements for the relay teams to travel.
With the top eight teams at the World Relays winning a direct entry into Tokyo 2020, the Poland event was seen as the best for Indian sprinters to make the Olympic grade.
Both Dutee Chand and Hima Das are yet to meet the qualifying standards in individual events.
The women’s 4x100m team included Dutee Chand, Hima Das, Dhanalakshmi — who beat Dutee in the final of women's 100m sprint in the Federation Cup last month, Archana Suseendran, Himashree Roy and AT Daneshwari.
The men’s 4x400m team featured Sarthak Bhambri, Amoj Jacob, Naganathan Pandi, Arokia Rajiv, Noah Nirmal Tom and Muhammed Anas Yahiya.
The women’s 4x400m team had pulled out due to fitness concerns with Anjali Devi still nursing an injury she sustained ahead of the Federation Cup last month.
The Indian mixed 4x400m relay team, meanwhile, has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics with an impressive show at the 2019 World Athletics Championships.