IOA has prepared a vision document to resume sport in India, after athletes and their training took a hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic. White Paper has suggestions from over 450 respondents including athletes.
All sporting activity came to a grinding halt in mid-March 2020 just ahead of the announcement of the nation-wide lockdown. Elite athletes, development athletes, kids with dreams of representing India in future, sports broadcasters, commercial sponsors, everyone is reeling in some way or other due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
While some activity resumed in the final week of May 2020, The challenge will be to bring sport back in its fullest form, with the best precautionary and safety measures in place for all stakeholders.
The purpose of creating the White Paper as per IOA is to draw up a blueprint for the resumption of competitive sport at all levels and see if there are answers for some questions like:
• How and when should team sport resume in the country?
• How and when should water sport resume in the country?
• How and when should contact sport resume in the country?
Some Key questions were asked of the stakeholders as well:
• When would it be safe to resume training and how?
• What changes do you foresee in Sport when it resumes?
• When would be it safe to resume competition?
• What precautions need to be taken when resuming sport?
• Do you prefer fans in-Stadia when competitive sport resumes?
Key stakeholders approached were:
• High-Performance Support Personnel
• Match officials
• Sports Administrators
Some Key Findings
Majority believes training should resume in August or later, with a minor percentage suggesting India should wait till a vaccine is available for Covid-19.
Nearly everyone acknowledged that training at home or hostel rooms is sufficient to only to maintain a certain level of fitness and could not be sport-specific training, especially the kind needed for elite athletes
It has been suggested that sanitisation of stadiums and venues should be handed over to local municipal authorities.
Social distancing is a must, especially in common use areas like dining hall, gymnasium, field of play etc. to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. NSFs have directed athletes to avoid contact with others, including hand-shakes, high-fives and hugs, during training and at other times.
There is an expectation among the sports community that some form of competition would be possible in or after September. However, it would depend on Government guidelines. Some National Sports Federations are in the process of drawing up schedules in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in July 2021.
On spectators in stadiums - answers ranged from outright yes to a vehement no, with some suggesting restrictions on the number of people allowed into stadia.
Some Suggestions that have been taken into account by IOA:
Covid-19 tests must be an ongoing process
Athletes must be educated on essential hygiene
Need to ensure greater knowledge about circumstances of transmission in competitive and community sport.
Report signs of sickness immediately
For Media and broadcasters
Minimum broadcast crew will be allowed on field of play
Only digital interactions with players
Maintain personal hygiene and social distancing norms
Some federations were asked about when training and competitions could resume in some particular sports?
Archery - Mid- or end of July, 2020
Athletics - As soon as possible for Tokyo Probables
Boxing - Ready but waiting for all approvals from government and sports ministry
Hockey - Training can start, international competition possible only after vaccine.
Shooting - Olympic Core Group training from July 2020 onwards
All athletes before starting national camps or training will have to prove they are COVID-19 negative. Athletes will have to wait for international exposure as it will depend on when India and other countries open their borders and this cannot be predicted with any certainty.