Sparring has been prohibited for contact disciplines as the Sports Authority of India on Thursday unveiled the Standard Operating Procedure for training activities to resume across the country.

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 theCovid-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 as well as human exchanges like tackling and has barred the use of swimming pools for now.

It is, however, as yet unclear when various sporting disciplines can resume training. 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. However, SAI sidestepped queries on when athletes can resume training.

Also read: As sports facilities in India get ready to open, the dilemma continues for athletes

“Resumption of training will depend on local administration’s approval,” said SAI secretary Rohit Bhardwaj in an online press conference to unveil the SOP.

“The protocols of the SOP will be effective from immediate effect, but the logistics might take time.

“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.

Disinfectants being used on training equipment after every use, a ban on sparring, and usage of gyms in shifts are among the measures to tackle the Covid-19 threat.

A six-member committee, headed by Bharadwaj, formulated the protocol.

The document states that the Arogya Setu app is 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.

Here are some key points from the SOP issued by SAI:

  • Resumption of sporting activity should take place in a staged fashion with an initial phase of small group (<10) activities in a non-contact fashion while maintaining physical distancing, prior to moving on to a subsequent phase of large group (>10) activities including full contact training/competition in sport. Individual jurisdictions will determine progression through these phases.
  • Athletes will have to sign consent forms, acknowledging the risks associated with restarting practice. The task force must ensure each athlete provides a signed consent form declaring their consent and knowledge of all the limitations and risks associated with training under current scenario.
Flow chart for resuming training

  • The detection of a positive Covid-19 case in a sporting club or organisation will result in a standard public health response, which could include quarantine of a whole team or large group, and close contacts, for the required period.
  • A Covid-19 Task Force shall be constituted at each training centre to guide and monitor all trainees and staff within the centres. The Task Force shall include the chief coaching staff from each NSF as its member.
  • The use of Aarogya Setu app shall be made mandatory for all athletes and staff at the centre. The Task Force shall ensure a 100% coverage of Aarogya Setu among all athletes and staff at the centre. Health information of every individual shall be mandatorily updated daily. Activities shall only be allowed if status on Aarogya Setu shows safe.

  • The training facilities used by Olympic athletes and probables shall be earmarked exclusively for their use and shall not be accessible to other athletes.
  • Athletes and staff shall be screened before being allowed access to common field-of-play/training facilities. RT-PCR test shall be conducted for new/returning athletes (especially athletes in Olympic camps) as per government guidelines.
  • Physical contact of any form shall be avoided as part of training routine, for example handshakes, high-fives, tackling, sparring etc.
  • Use of swimming pool shall not be allowed during this period except in facilities designated for Olympic training. Separate guideline shall be published for allowing resumption of swimming. Opening of swimming pool is subject to guidelines of the government on this issue.
  • The use of gym shall be allowed in specific time slots, allowing sufficient time for disinfection between two slots, and the maximum number of people allowed to use the gym at a time shall be determined by the Covid Task Force of respective centre depending on available space.
  • Sporting disciplines have been divided into four categories - non-contact, medium contact, full contact and water sports.
  • In contact sporting disciplines, selective training activities may be performed by athletes individually without engaging in physical combat with other athletes and utilising alternative practice equipment like punching/kicking bags, slam balls, choke dummies etc.
  • In disciplines requiring minimal contact (team events), training activities may be performed in small groups (maximum 8-10) maintaining distancing norms of minimum two metres between athletes and staff and ensuring aspects of training which require physical contact are avoided like tackling, body-pushing etc.

(With PTI inputs)

You can read the entire SOP here.

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