Baton exchange won't be allowed in relay training, boxers will not have access to rings and only singles players will get to practice at indoor badminton courts, according to the Sports Authority of India's SOP for resumption of training, the timeline for which is still not clear.
Athletics, hockey, badminton, boxing and shooting were among the 11 disciplines which were permitted to resume outdoor training following relaxations in the lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Weightlifters, archers, cyclists, fencers, wrestlers and paddlers too can resume training with requisite safety measures.
The SOP, however, prohibits sparring for contact disciplines and has barred the use of swimming pools for now. "Human sparring, use of boxing ring, etc. is prohibited," the SOP said. The SAI's SOP came after the home ministry allowed the opening of sports complexes and stadia in its guidelines for the fourth phase of the lockdown, which has been extended till May 31. But there has been no clarity on when the training will resume.
Even though the SOP will be "applicable with immediate effect", resumption of sports activities across the country will depend entirely on local administrations. "The protocols of the SOP will be effective from immediate effect, but the logistics might take time," SAI secretary Rohit Bharadwaj said in an online press conference to unveil the SOP.
"The SOP is a broad reference document which can be customised according to local conditions, which means the guidelines of a state government can supersede the SOP at any time. We have categorised everything but all depends on local administrations' objections," he added.
The SAI secretary said the SOP is the first step towards restarting sporting activities across the country. Disinfection of training equipment after every use, a bar on sparring, and usage of gyms in shifts are among the measures to tackle the COVID-19 threat in SAI's SOP, released formally after approval from the sports and home ministry.
A six-member committee, headed by Bharadwaj, formulated the protocol. The document makes Arogya Setu app mandatory for all athletes and staff and calls for strict social distancing at training venues. Increased sanitation measures and stringent supervision of athletes' health are also among a slew of measures to prevent the deadly infection.
"The moto of the SOP is to restart sports activities. It gives us principles based on which activities can start but it is mandatory to comply with government guidelines," Bharadwaj said. "Everything should be done in consultation with local authorities."
According to the SOP, training in all athletic events can resume but usage of high jump, long jump, triple jump and pole vault pit is not permitted unless available for personal use. It also prohibits contact or baton exchange in relay training. The SOP states that all athletes must follow social distancing norms and should not share their training equipment with anyone.
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