Lenny D’Gama is self-quarantined at home in Goa since March 18, the day he returned from London hours before the travel ban was imposed in the country.
D’Gama was in London to officiate at the European Olympic qualifier which was suspended on March 16 as coronavirus cases around the world continued to spike leading to countries closing borders.
On Thursday, D’Gama was on guard after reports emerged that two boxers –Serhat Guler from Turkey and Toni Filipi from Croatia — and a trainer, Seyfullah Dumlupinar from Turkey, who participated in the qualifiers had tested positive for coronavirus.
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Besides D’Gama, who is an International Technical (ITO) official, another Indian, Lt Col Ashok, was in London as part of the Referee and Judges team.
“We are taking all precautions as has been advised. I am in quarantine at home, staying in a separate room. In Goa all of a sudden it has spiked — 33 new cases have come up only today. Till yesterday there were only three cases,” said D’Gama.
The European boxing qualifier was scheduled from March 14 to 24. On the first day spectators were allowed but from the second, the Copper Box Arena was shut down. By the third day the event was called off. “We heard the news that the championship is going to be cancelled during the quarter-finals. But we were in for a surprise when there was a meeting in the afternoon on March 16 and IOC (International Olympic Committee) spokesperson informed us about the cancellation,” said D’Gama.
It triggered a rush to book tickets for home. D’Gama learnt India would soon be imposing travel ban on passengers from UK. “The only panic was for tickets. The IOC had pre-booked tickets but they told us not to worry, that they will do everything overnight. I told them India is closing borders and they booked my ticket within three hours. I arrived in Mumbai on the morning of March 18,” said D’Gama, who also officiated at the Africa qualifier in Dakar, Senegal, from February 20-29.
After landing in Mumbai, D’Gama went through the medical screening and was advised a 14-day self-quarantine. However, the moment he landed home in Goa health department officials came to check in.
“The health department officials came over and stamped my hand. They said, ‘you are not to go out at any cost, and if there is anything or you get a temperature inform us.’ They said they will check on me every four days. So I was really impressed.”
While Turkish Boxing Federation president Eyup Gozgec has lambasted IOC’s Boxing Task Force overseeing the qualification and the British government for going ahead with the event, D’Gama said the organisers had taken precautions.
“Besides the routine medical check-up before the start of tournament, there was medical examination everyday from March 13. It was informed if anybody has fever, or any symptoms, running nose etc, they would be referred to the hospital. Sanitisers were available at all the places, from the Referee and Judges room to the technical official’s room, at the training centre and also at the Field of Play.”
The 26-member Indian boxing contingent also returned from Jordan on March 12, after competing at the Asian Olympics qualifier. The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) said it was in constant touch with the boxers, coaches and support staff who are in self-quarantine. “Everyone is doing fine and taking all precautions. We have asked them to send a video update everyday so that we can monitor and they are following the routine,” said RK Sacheti, executive director, BFI.