Despite COVID-19 risk, sports activities can be resumed: Health experts

Santosh Raj Panday

October 9, 2020

4 MIN READ

Despite COVID-19 risk, sports activities can be resumed: Health experts

Footballers at practice session (File Photo)

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KATHMANDU: With the sports activities coming to a standstill for nearly seven months, people have started wondering whether it’s high time to resume the sports activities.

Public health expert, Dr. Suman Rawal opines that sports activities can be carried out abiding the World Health Organization (WHO) and Nepal Government directives.

When asked what happens if the directives could not be followed, Rawal’s answer is as expected. “If we fail to abide by the health safety standards, the sports activities might backfire,” he says straightforwardly.

According to Dr. Rawal, WHO has prepared the directives including all the factors the players and the hosts have to abide by while resuming sports activities.

These activities include using hand sanitizer, maintaining social distance, taking the temperature regularly, washing hands with soap and using a mask to mention a few.

He opines that it would be better to keep the players, trainers and officials in quarantine for 14 days and if that’s too long for 7 days and resume the practices abiding the health safety standards.

The sports stakeholders have started expressing concern over the impact of such late responses and are saying that the government is not sincere about restoring the sports life in the country.

“Keeping the players in isolation as per the health standards will minimize the health risks,” Dr. Rawal says, “If we organize events or resume practices in well-ventilated halls, that also without involving many people there, the activities can be resumed.”

The players should maintain at least one-meter distance while in the field. The changing room should be spacious as well.

Dr. Rawal nods ‘yes’ to sports activities provided they meet health safety standards and the players feel safe in the playground.

However, he fears it might turn fatal provided enough attention is not paid towards the health safety measures.

In the meantime, Ramesh Kumar Silwal, the Member Secretary of National Sports Council (NSC), the governing body for all sports events in Nepal, has made it clear that NSC cannot arrange for the quarantine of all players right now, yet the Council is trying to help the players come back to their sports safely.

The government had postponed all sports activities since the 2nd week of March citing health threats the coronavirus pandemic had posed to the people involved in the sports activities.

Citing the pandemic risk, NSC had directed for the abrupt ending of Martyr’s Memorial B Division League being played in the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) complex.

In the 3rd week of July, the government had granted permission to start the practice sessions for the international matches from mid-August.

However, before the sessions could start formally, the Valley underwent prohibitory orders. The NSC also gave written directions asking to stop the practice sessions.

ANFA has sought NSC’s permission to resume the practice sessions for international matches, but it has not got any affirmative nod from the authority yet. ANFA’s is believed to have reached COVID-19 Crisis Management Committee(CCMC).

The sports stakeholders have started expressing concern over the impact of such late responses and are saying that the government is not sincere about restoring the sports life in the country.

The coronavirus pandemic is wide-spreading of late. The country saw record-high 4,364 cases in the country on Thursday, out of which 2,540 were from Kathmandu valley alone.

There are 26,684 active cases in the country to date as of Thursday evening.

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