Sports in time of Covid-19: What can and can't be done in lockdown 4.0

As India entered in the 4th phase of lockdown, government has allowed to resume the training activities in the stadiums with no spectators.
India has extended its lockdown to contain the coronavirus for the fourth time, but training will be allowed in stadiums with no spectators.


Here's what the home ministry's new guidelines say about sport: 
  • Stadium will now be open
  • This means that sport athletes can resume their individual training and allowed to enter the stadiums
  • However, spectators are still now allowed, which will keep the big sporting events at bay 


Are cricketers allowed to train?


In response to the new ministry of home affairs (MHA) guidelines, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has said that it will not rush into any decision' and further wait before organising a skill-based training camp for its contracted players.


"The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has taken note of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Sunday for containment of COvid-19 across the country," BCCI honorary treasurer Arun Singh Dhumal said in a statement.

ALSO READ: Coronavirus: BCCI not to rush into any decision after new MHA guidelines 


However, BCCI can take a cue from England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), who allowed its contracted players to resume training in their respective county clubs.


What training protocols English players have to adhere


After the lockdown extension on May 3, Tokyo Olympics-bound elite athletes based at Sports Authority of India (SAI) complexes in Patiala and Bengaluru, have been demanding a resumption of training. To address their questions, last week, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju held a series of video conferences to take the athletes' view on the matter and asked the respective sports body to come up with new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for training in post Covid-19 era.




No physical contact other than in normal play, training in "groups of maximum four to six people in an area of 40x20m" and mandatory usage of the Aarogya Setu app are among the measures listed out in Hockey India's Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) once training and competitions restart post the lockdown imposed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.


Here is the SOP for Hockey after lockdown
  • Training in groups of maximum 4-6 people per area of 40x20m, this will create an environment with few people in big areas of play.
  • Full pitch could be divided into 4 parts, and a maximum of 3-4 players could use each part with a minimum of 1-metre space between each player.
  • The same set of 3-4 players should train together at all times to avoid any spread of infection if in case anyone is affected at some point.
  • High-fives and fist bumps are prohibited and players will have to arrive at the training ground in their full kit so as to minimise the usage of changing rooms and bathrooms. They are expected to bring their own towels and water bottles.
  • Between training efforts, maintain a distance of at least 1.5m (e.g. in the gym, pool, between sets or efforts). Any tasks that can be done at home, should be done at home (e.g. recovery sessions).
  • Groundsmen are to carry out their preparations before the players and staff arrive at the field or after they leave only. All equipment that is used will be wiped down and sanitised at the end of training.
  • HI also says in the SOP that 'all member units' staff and teams should download the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones.
  • Before leaving for the upcoming event, all players and staff must review their status on 'Aarogya Setu' and travel only when the app shows 'safe' or 'low risk' status."

 ALSO READ: Hockey post-coronavirus: HI asks players to carry their own towels, bottles

Standard Operating Procedures formulated by SAI

A 33-page document was formulated by a six-member committee, headed by scretary Rohit Bharadwaj, which is yet to be passed by the Sports and Health Ministry. SAI has sent across the draft to the National Sports Federations (NSFs) to seek their view on the recommendations.

  • The document proposes making the use of Arogya Setu app mandatory for all athletes and staff at the centre.
  • Strict social distancing at training venues, use of PPE kits by medical practitioners on duty, increased sanitation measures and stringent supervision of athletes' health.
  • The document suggests testing of all athletes who would be returning to the training facilities.
  • The returning athletes shall be quarantined till the test results clear them of Covid-19 contraction. Final clearance should be provided by the Doctor-in-charge at the respective SAI centres.
  • To ensure smooth functioning/structuring of the training and to achieve desired results after the resumption of training, a proper monitoring process shall be put in place to ensure early detection of illness within the training group.
  • Physiotherapy and massage be avoided unless "absolutely necessary". The protocol for such sessions would require the people involved to follow basic hygiene.
  • The SOP also stresses on the need to form a Covid Task Force at each training centre with the Centre-in-charge as its ex-officio chairman.

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