New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday discussed the the rapidly-growing threat of the Covid19 pandemic with India’s top athletes, including cricket icon Virat Kohli and star shuttler P V Sindhu, urging them to support awareness campaigns on social distancing.
More than 40 athletes, along with sports minister Kiren Rijiju, participated in nearly an hour-long video call which started at 11am. The country is in a 21-day lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.
The prime minister sought the athletes’ support to raise awareness about the need for social distancing and personal hygiene at a time when the total number of Covid19 positive cases in India has crossed 2,000.
“Your suggestions will be taken note of. We are fighting this pandemic like Team India. I am confident that India will be rejuvenated by the inspiration provided by you,” the prime minister was seen telling athletes in a clip shared by shuttler B Sai Praneeth, a world championship bronze-medallist, who also attended the call.
Top stars turn up
Apart from Tendulkar, Ganguly and Kohli, other cricketers in the call included top batsman Rohit Sharma, former pacer Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh. The names of World Cup-winning former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and K L Rahul were in the list of participants but it is learnt that they could not attend the call.
Olympic silver-medallist shuttler Sindhu, javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra, chess wizard Viswanathan Anand, sprinter Hima Das, boxing stars MC Mary Kom and Amit Panghal, wrestler Vinesh Phogat, and teenage shooting sensation Manu Bhaker were among the other accomplished athletes who took part in the video call.
Some were asked to speak
“Of these, 12 have been given three minutes each to speak and present their view,” a ministry source told PTI without revealing the names of the chosen athletes.
It was later learnt that Tendulkar, Ganguly, Mary Kom and Kohli were among those who spoke during the interaction.
Former world champion weightlifter Mirabai Chanu said he urged everyone to be united in the fight to combat the pandemic.
“The PM asked us to spread awareness on social distancing and hygiene. He spoke about how we need Virat’s (Kohli) fighting spirit to win this battle,” added veteran table tennis player Sharath Kamal.
The Prime Minister felt ability to face challenges, self-discipline, positivity and self-belief, which are essential to sports, are crucial tools to combat the spread of the virus as well.