NEW DELHI: Fans will soon be seen thronging the sports arenas cheering for their favourite players and teams as the country’s sporting authorities on Sunday lifted the restrictions on spectators’ management by allowing full-capacity crowds at stadiums for outdoor events during the upcoming tournaments.
Returning to a semblance of normalcy, the ministry of youth affairs and sports (MYAS) has revised its guidelines for opening up of stadia for sports events by permitting 100 percent seating capacity during outdoor meets, lifting the earlier crowd cap which allowed a maximum of 50 percent of the total stadium capacity. Authorities are confident the stadiums once again will be filled to full-capacity crowds, riding on the hopes of people getting vaccinated for Covid-19 and the virus showing a downward trend in the country.
The organisers of the Shooting World Cup in March or the Indian Premier League (IPL) could benefit from the move. While the shotgun events which take place outdoors at the Karni Singh Shooting Range (KSSR) can have a capacity crowd, the IPL management, if the tournament happens in the country, may make provision to allow 100 percent spectators for its league matches.
“For outdoor sports events, spectators will be allowed up to full seating capacity,” read the ministry’s revised Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). “CCTV monitoring may be planned for larger events to detect over-crowding at entry and exit gates and seating areas. Within the premises of the sporting arena, gathering of spectators shall be governed by the instructions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) from time to time,” the SOP stated.
The ministry informed that the crowd management will be done in accordance with the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) guidelines issued on January 27. The revised SOP issued by the ministry stated that the guidelines were formulated in consultation with all the stakeholders and the “competitions should be conducted strictly in accordance with the MHA guidelines”, including Covid-19 appropriate behaviour, regular hand sanitisation, wearing of face masks, physical distancing, respiratory etiquettes and installation of Arogya Setu App.
For indoor meets, under the current government restrictions, sporting venues had a cap of 200 people for events in a closed space.
According to the SOP, a Covid-19 Task Force will be constituted for each sporting competition by the organising committee to guide and monitor all athletes and Athlete Support Personnel (ASPs). This Task Force will be responsible for overall implementation of protocols and other directions issued by the MHA and MoHFW.
All the athletes and ASPs will have to undergo thermal screening while entering the venue. “Depending on the risk perception and the scale of events, the organizing committee may consider making RT-PCR testing of athletes and ASPs carried out within 72 hours prior to the event. Only those having negative RT-PCR reports shall be allowed to participate in the event,” the SOP read. For this, the organising committee may also make suitable linkages with ICMR approved laboratories for Covid-19 testing of athletes and ASPs who report without a Covid test report.
The SOP further prohibits athletes and ASPs living in containment zones from participating in the competition and those who are at higher risk from mingling directly with athletes, coaches and other employees. “ASPs who are at higher risk i.e. older, pregnant and those who have underlying medical conditions must take extra precaution. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with other athletes/coaches/other employees.”
The guidelines also directed the support staff whose physical presence is not required to work from home through “telework/video conferencing”. Thermal screening of all athletes and ASPs shall be undertaken prior to allowing access to common fields of play.