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BREAKING: Hima Das, Dutee Chand likely to miss Olympic qualifiers in Poland due to COVID-induced flight cancellation

NEW DELHI: Star sprinters Hima Das and Dutee Chand are likely to miss the Olympic qualifying World Athletics Relays in Poland on May 1 and 2 after the Indian contingent’s connecting flight to Amsterdam has been suspended following an unprecedented increase in the country’s COVID-19 caseload.

The women’s and men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relay teams were scheduled to fly to Amsterdam in the early hours of Thursday, but the Dutch government has suspended flights from India as of Monday evening.

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Since there is no direct flight from India to Poland, the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) attempted to book an alternative flight to any European city en route to Silesia, Poland, where the event will be held on May 1 and 2.

AFI president Adille J Sumariwalla said: “At this time, we are extremely disappointed. Between Indian airports and Warsaw, Poland, there are no direct flights. Despite their best efforts, the team was unable to be rerouted on another airline.”

“We’ve been looking for alternatives non-stop over the past 24 hours… to reroute them. We’ve been in close contact with the organisers, World Athletics, various consulates and airlines. Nobody has complied in the current situation,” he added.

S Dhanalakshmi, Archana Suseendran, Himashree Roy, and AT Daneshwari, who had defeated Dutee in the Federation Cup final of the women’s 100m sprint last month, were also included in the squad.

India is also expected to compete in the men’s 4x400m relay in Chorzow, Silesia, Poland.

The top eight teams in the World Athletics Relays will automatically qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The women’s 4x400m relay team had previously withdrawn due to the fact that more than two participants were deemed unfit.

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