Focus on Exclusive Facilities for Olympic Athletes: SAI's SOP Allows Resumption of Sports

Image of a swimming pool used for representation purposes only. (Getty Images)

Image of a swimming pool used for representation purposes only. (Getty Images)

Olympic-bound athletes will have the leisure of having exclusive training facilities and equipments, which will not be touched or accessed by any other athlete so that they stay as safe as possible.

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Sports Authority of India has released a detailed Standard Operating Procedure to enable the sports activities to return from Covid lockdown.

Sports Authority of India has released its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) document as it lays the path for the resumption of sports after a two-month lockdown due to coronavirus that saw the sporting world put on hold.

Olympic-bound athletes will have exclusive training facilities and equipments, which will not be touched or accessed by any other athlete so that they stay as safe as possible.

Disinfecting the entire complex is one of the key requirements mentioned in the SOP before the operation begins there.

Athletes who were locked down in SAI's facilties like the Indian men's and women's hockey teams, have to report to Covid-19 help desk with whether they feel any symptoms or not. The athletes who will return to the facilities now will have to undergo a necessary test for coronavirus and stay quarantined till the result comes back.

Here is the flowchart for resumption of operations:

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A Covid Task Force is set to be in place, whose responsibilities will include keeping the athletes informed, ensuring the disinfection of areas and security measures, keep track of the movement of athletes and staff through a movement register and updating the higher management of Covid-19 cases.

The guiding principles for resumption of training are:

1. Implementation of necessary precautionary measures at the centres.

2. Education and sensitization of athletes and staff.

3. Categorisation of sports and precautions for each category.

4. Continuous monitoring and management of protocols.

There is set to be intense scrutiny on all the athletes and the National Sports Federation (NSFs) over how they handle the resumption and how they manage to operate within the rules.

Some of the protocols set in place for training are:

1. 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.

2. FOP equipment shall be handed over to the athletes and support staff only by the ground staff wearing adequate protective equipment like masks and gloves.

3. Athletes shall change before and after the training at their respective room. Use of low ventilated spaces and rooms that prevent social distancing, such as locker rooms and small dryland rooms shall be avoided.

4. A coach or staff member should ask athletes, as they come into practice, if they feel ill in any way, specifically listing certain symptoms, and send home those athletes reporting illness or experiencing symptoms. Symptoms include mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough and difficulty breathing, or other symptoms.

5. Athletes/coaches who begin to cough/sneeze for any reason, must move away from others until coughing/sneezing dissipates.

6. Residential athletes requiring usage of common shower areas shall ensure soaps, towels and any other utility is not shared. Athletes shall ensure social distancing is maintained even inside the toilets. Guidelines for cleaning toilets, social distancing norms and hygiene practices shall be displayed clearly inside every toilet.

7. On-field training shall be conducted in small groups ensuring distance of minimum 2 metres is maintained at all times by trainees and staff.

8. Any training equipment used shall be disinfected before next usage by a different individual. Athletes shall only be allowed to use personal equipment including utilities like towels, water bottles etc.

9. Hand-hygiene facilities shall be made available adjacent to field-of-play for use as and when necessary.

10. Physical contact of any form shall be avoided as part of training routine, for example handshakes, high-fives, tackling, sparring etc.

11. Use of swimming pool shall not be allowed during this period except in facilities designated for Olympic training. Separate guideline/SOP 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 gymnasium is set to be according to government protocols and only those who necessarily require it can get access to it. "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," the SOP mentioned.

Recovery areas like sauna, hydroptherary etc have been disallowed during this period.

Among the security measures, one is that there will only be one entry and exit to and from the centre, which will enable everybody entering and leaving to be checked thoroughly.

Sports have been divided into four categories - non-contact, medium contact, full contact and water sports. Under the non-contact ones come archery, shooting, cycling, fencing and athletics.

All team sports including football and hockey and indirect contact sports like tennis and badminton come under medium contact category. Full contact sports include, boxing, wushu, karate and so on.

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Athletes are required to submit a consent form and an undertaking to resume training. Continuous monitoring of athletes and staff is a must and handling of suspected and confirmed covid cases have also been specified.

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