COVID-19: Is it time to resume sports in India?

COVID-19 has halted sporting events across the globe and experts from a wide range of disciplines weigh in on the matter when sports can resume in India.

Vinay Kumar feels 'resumption of cricket any time soon is out of question.'   -  Prashant Nakwe

German Bundesliga football will be the rare sports event to restart, on May 16, even as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on across the world. This brings up the question — how ready is India to resume sports action?

Sportstar caught up with eminent sports personalities for their views.

Vimal Kumar, former National badminton champion and coach

Tournaments can start only after September, but elite athletes have to start training now to be ready. But at the moment, no decision-maker is taking responsibility. More people are making a living out of sports, but no one is bothered.

Countries like Australia have come out with clear guidelines to reboot sport, but here there is only fear.

Sportspersons are the most health conscious people and will certainly take precautions. What bothers me is that sportspersons themselves are keeping quiet, and instead sending messages like ‘stay home and stay safe’. If Virat Kohli bats for the athletes, the whole country will listen.

COVID-19 and sports: A corona-curtailed Test cricket season  

Terry Phelan, former Manchester City footballer and South United FC Technical Director

I don’t expect to see football matches with packed crowds any time this year. The Bundesliga is set to resume, but is it really behind closed doors? You will still have around 300 people — players, club staff, groundstaff, tournament officials etc. — at the venue. No safety plan is fool proof; there is still risk involved.

When medical experts in India give the green light to resume playing, we can start by building confidence among kids, their parents and schools. Health comes first.

Vinay Kumar, current Pondicherry player and former Karnataka captain

With COVID-19 cases still on the rise, resumption of cricket any time soon is out of question. We do not have full knowledge about this virus yet. Unless a vaccine is discovered, the risk is too high. A player or umpire could be infected — that infected person may even be asymptomatic.

Fielders and bowlers — purely by habit — will use saliva and sweat, which is dangerous. What happens if a player or umpire contracts the virus in his neighbourhood? It is impossible to monitor everyone all the time.

Zeeshan Ali, Indian Davis Cup coach

About 70% of tennis in India is recreational and such an activity will be the last to start. For now, I only see serious tennis players beginning one-on-one sessions. There are certain precautions to be taken: like marking tennis balls with player names for individual use and wearing gloves.

These may have sounded ridiculous three months ago, but will be the norm. I am in touch with the AITA but I don’t see tournaments happening before September.

Ashwini Nachappa, athlete and Olympian

The AFI says the season will begin from September. Within the country not many spectators come anyway and they can be distanced out. But it is going to be difficult because preparation is uncertain.

If athletes are already staying together in training centres, they can train rather than just be confined to their rooms. But the problem is that fear has set in. You cannot lead a life in fear.

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