Guidelines for resuming sports released

Sports had been significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic at both national and international levels with cancellation of matches; however, with the easing of lockdown in the country, guidelines for resuming sports have been released.

As per directives from the government, the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) has developed guidelines to resume sports in the country.

According to the BOC, the guidelines consist of information from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international sports organizations. The guidelines were set to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission.

The guidelines state that the workplace should be ready premises must be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis using clinically approved disinfectants that have no significant side-effects on exposure, through touch or smell.

Some of the important general measures to minimize risk are installing hand washing facility at the entrance, avoiding meetings and events, encouraging e-communication, use of Druk Trace app to be made mandatory for all staff and visitors, ensuring physical distancing at workplace, developing contingency work plans in case of community outbreak in Thimphu, and ensuring employees who display mild symptoms of COVID-19 self-quarantine and visit the nearest flu clinic.

BOC guidelines also highlight that sports facilities should be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis, and done before or after training hours.

The committee encourages personal training at home and provision of online coaching, maintenance of daily log of athletes and staff, using of Druk Trace app for both athletes and coaches, and training in small groups ensuring a minimum distance of 1m. All training equipment are supposed to be handed over to the athletes only by a staff wearing adequate protective equipment like masks and gloves, and no spectators are allowed within the center, at any time; only athletes and training staff shall be present at the venue.

For non-contact sports such as Olympic archery, shooting, golf and athletics, the individuals should maintain distancing norms of minimum 1m between athletes and staff. There should not be spectators and number of players or participants should be limited. All pre and post games socializing, at the venue must be avoided, and athletes should exit the facility immediately after training.

For partial contact sports like weightlifting, bodybuilding, tennis, badminton, table tennis, cricket, indigenous sports and gym, the training activities should be performed in small groups of maximum 8-10 individuals maintaining distancing norms of minimum 1m. Aspects of training which require physical contact must be avoided. Coaches shall oversee proceedings from a safe distance.

No entertainment group such as dancers will be allowed.

For contact sports like football, volleyball, basketball, boxing, judo, karate, taekwondo and others, the selective training activities would be performed by athletes individually without engaging in physical combat with other athletes and utilizing alternative practice equipment like punching or kicking bags, slam balls, choke dummies. Distancing norms of minimum 1m between athletes and staff should be maintained and athletes must exit the facility as soon as training concludes.

BOC says the SOP for re-opening of sports in the south: high risks regions are still under discussion.

Sonam Tashi from Thimphu