Ashok Diwan, goalkeeper of India’s 1975 hockey World Cup-winning team who is stuck in the USA due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown in India, could take a return flight home on May 13, provided everything goes as per the schedule. The other good news is that he is now off-medicine, having complained of high blood pressure and anxiety last month.
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Diwan’s 1975 World Cup teammate Aslam Sher Khan is stuck in England. Khan along with his wife had gone to meet their son, but they got stuck when the lockdown was enforced. The two-time Member of Parliament told Outlook on Saturday that he would wait for regularisation of flights from England to India to return home.
Diwan, 65, goes to the USA every year to meet his son, who works there. He reached there on December 19 last year and was scheduled to return to India on April 20. But when the lockdown in India began on March 25, he got stuck. Now, he is set to take a return flight from San Francisco to New Delhi as the Indian government tries to bring people stuck in different countries starting this week.
“All those stuck here in the USA and wanting to return to India were required to register themselves. I got myself duly registered on April 30. Tentatively, there is a flight scheduled to carry Indians home from San Francisco on May 13. The flight will be confirmed on May 10,” the Delhi-based Diwan told Outlook from Sacramento, California, where he is living with his son.
“You get lonely and home sick being away from home for so long. But if everything goes as per the plan, I would be taking the May 13 flight to New Delhi,” said Diwan, who at 19 was the youngest member of the Ajit Pal Singh-led India squad that beat Pakistan in the final to win the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
Diwan fell ill last month, complaining of high levels of anxiety and high blood pressure. When he was unwell the Indian Embassy in the USA came to his help after the Indian sports ministry put in a word. India’s Ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu spoke to Diwan and assured all assistance. Diwan has since recovered and has stopped taking medicines.
However, Diwan will have to pay an enhanced price for the flight ticket, despite having already booked a return ticket. “I have no idea what will happen to my original ticket. Let us see. But I want to return home now, even if I have to pay extra. I am also hearing that the returning passengers will also have to bear the expenses of the two-week quarantine period they will have to undergo on reaching India,” he said.
On the other hand, Khan, 66, and his wife are in London with their son. “I am hearing that flights are starting from various countries to take back people stranded abroad. But we would probably wait for the regular flights to start to return home,” Khan told Outlook.