Lockdown 4.0: Sports complexes and stadia to reopen under new guidelines; no entry for spectators

INDIA: In its new set of guidelines for the country-wide lockdown, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has permitted the opening of sports complexes and stadias in non-containment areas.

For the last couple of months, there has not been any sporting actions across the country, with the stadiums and other facilities out of bounds. So, this certainly has come as a boost for the sporting fraternity.

The government of India extended the nationwide lockdown till May 31, but as sports complexes will now be open, it will make way for at least the resumption of halted training camps. Meanwhile, sport continues to be listed among the events and gatherings which are not permitted as of now.

“Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open, however, spectators won’t be allowed,” read one of the Ministry of Home Affairs guidelines to be followed during the lockdown, which was due to end on Monday but has been extended till May 31. 

So far, India has recorded over 95,000 COVID-19 cases with more than 3000 deaths. The only big-ticket event that was to happen in India at this time was the Indian Premier League, which was postponed indefinitely in April due to the health crisis. Despite the relaxation announced on Sunday, the IPL is unlikely to go ahead even behind closed doors anytime soon as travel restrictions – both domestic and international – continue to remain in place.

The lockdown originally came into effect in mid-March and the Tokyo Olympics-bound elite athletes, who are based at Sports Authority of India (SAI) complexes in Patiala and Bengaluru, have been demanding resumption of training for the past couple of weeks. The Olympics has been postponed to 2021 owing to the deadly pandemic.

Last week, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju held a series of video conferences to take the athletes’ view on the matter, including interactions with weightlifters, hockey players and track-and-field practitioners. On May 3, he declared that the ministry was aiming for a phase-wise resumption of national camps by the end of this month for at least the Olympic-bound athletes. He had stated that the ministry was waiting for the MHA guidelines.

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