There is still no clarity on when the stadiums supported by the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) will be ready for competitions.
SDAT is awaiting instructions from the State Government with regard to the opening of certain stadiums and incorporation of SOPs for tournaments.
Among the SDAT stadiums in Chennai, Nehru Stadium is open only for warm-up while the Nehru Indoor Stadium and School of Boxing at the Nehru Stadium remain closed. The Hall of table tennis, the hall of judo as well as the shooting hall are currently open for warm-up and practice, but the Mayor Radhakrishnan hockey Stadium remains closed.
"Swimming pools are open now, cinema theatres have opened for 50 percent occupancy, so why can’t stadiums be opened for competitions?," asks C. Latha, Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Athletics Association. V. Baskaran, president of the Chennai Hockey Association, echoes the sentiment.
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With schools reopening on September 1 and sports hostel students getting ready for practice, SDAT is aware that it is time the stadiums are made ready for competitions. “We have informed the Government and it is up to them to take the call,” said a top SDAT source to Sportstar .
With the Open Nationals athletics meet scheduled in Warangal (Telangana) from Sept. 15 to 19 and the U23 Nationals from Sept. 27 to 29, Tamil Nadu athletes are practicing at the Nehru Stadium in Chennai and the districts.
T. Manikanda Raja, who trains at the Nehru Stadium, says: “All the top athletes who are preparing for the Open Nationals and the U23 Nationals have been allowed to train at the Nehru Stadium. We are practicing hard."
Former India hockey captain and Olympian Baskaran is of the opinion that the Government should open the hockey stadium and start holding competitions as soon as possible. “Government should start slowly and steadily and give slots to hockey tournaments for schools and slowly build on that. I am looking to start the CHA senior division league. When PSA squash event can be conducted, when Tamil Nadu Premier League can be held, why can’t hockey tournaments take place,” asks Baskaran.
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T. Joshua, in charge of the GST & Central Excise hockey team, said it’s better not to rush with tournaments when COVID-19 cases are still active in the State. “Not to conduct tournaments is the right decision. That way, it is safe for the players. But I know that the JJ Indoor Stadium at Kilpauk run by Chennai Corporation is open for basketball. Why this contradiction,” he says.
The onus is on the State Government to come up with relevant SOPs for different sports and engage with the State sports Associations in holding tournaments in a safe and secure manner.
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