The Union Ministry of Home Affairs had on 17th May issued new guidelines for the pan-India extension of lockdown due to the spread of pandemic COVID-19. After over two months of lockdown that saw all sporting activities come to a standstill, the Indian government gave permission for stadia to be opened sans spectators.

 

This has been a welcome move in the sports fraternity, and even more for athletes that are preparing for Tokyo 2021. Union Minster for Youth Affairs and Sports, Kiren Rijiju, has stated that stadiums and training complexes may be opened and sporting events can be conducted behind closed doors, after following the necessary standard operating procedures.

The SOPs have been laid out in detail by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

 

“Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open; however no spectators will be allowed,” read one of the several guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs released last week. All sporting federations in the country had adhered to the lockdown norms and tried to ensure the safety of the players.

 

“All the sport disciplines are not the same, for example, weightlifting or any sports which do not have physical contact with each other as it has its own way of starting as per SOPs. But other sports like Boxing, Wrestling, Football, Hockey, in these games you have physical contact involved so there are different procedures for different sporting events,” Rijiju told ANI.

 

“That’s why right now we can start events but they need to be held without spectators,” he added.

 

The fourth phase of the lockdown has seen its extension till May 31. This, however, would now see sportsmen, for instance footballers, to train behind closed doors.

 

“We are doing it in a phased manner, we have given permission for the activities to kickstart but you need to maintain control and take the states in confidence as some regions also fall under the red zones. So you have to be more careful about the activities being conducted in red zones. Sporting activities have to start because if you don’t play, if you don’t do activities, it also has negative effects overall on your physical condition and mental condition,” Rijiju stated.

 

However, he also added that gyms and swimming pools will not be allowed to open. “Each sport has their own training programme, you need to careful when it goes to gymming and swimming as everyone will use the same gym and same goes for swimming as many swimmers will be using the same pool,” he said.

 

Last weekend, Bundesliga in Germany became the first major league in Europe to re-start since the outbreak of Coronavirus. The Indian federations must now ensure the players gradually regain full fitness and get ready for their respective tournaments.

 

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