India cancels pre-Olympic base in Korea amid coronavirus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: 2016 Rio Olympics - Shooting - Preliminary - Men's 25m Rapid Fire Pistol Qualification - Stage 1 - Olympic Shooting Centre - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Gurpreet Singh (IND) of India competes. REUTERS/Edgard

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The Indian shooting federation has dropped Italy as a training venue for its shooters and also cancelled plans to set up a pre-Olympic base in South Korea following the coronavirus outbreak, its president told Reuters on Thursday.

The coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed nearly 2,800, the majority in China, the source of the outbreak.

The rapid spread of the virus in places like Italy, Iran and South Korea in recent days has also wreaked havoc on the sporting landscape.

National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) president Raninder Singh said it had impacted the training of India's Olympic-bound shooters as well.

"Our shotgun shooters used to go to Italy for training but considering the situation there, we'd probably send them to a safer country like Norway," Singh said by telephone.

The NRAI has also decided to shelve its plans to set up a pre-Olympic base for its shooters in the South Korean city of Changwon.

"We are cancelling it. It's in the same time zone with Tokyo and we thought it would be a good idea to have a base there," Singh said.

"Our shooters were supposed to fly directly from there to Tokyo but that's not an option anymore."

NRAI on Thursday announced a 25-member team for an Olympic test event in April at the Asaka Shooting Range but Singh said the federation was monitoring situations.

"I don't want to be an alarmist, but at the same time no one should be exposed to any health threats. The well-being of our athletes is our primary concern," he said.

"I have seen Japan Prime Minister's statement saying sports and cultural events should be scrapped or curtailed for two weeks. We're watching the situation. As of now, we are going."

The outbreak has hit next month's shooting World Cup in New Delhi as well with six nations, including China and North Korea, pulling out of the event.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Toby Davis)

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