KHELO INDIA ‘PHIR SE’: AN ANALYSIS OF THE SAI’S FRAMEWORK
Updated: Jul 9
The post is part of our COVID-19 series and has been authored by Dhruti Lunker and Isiri SD.
Dhruti and Isiri are third-year students of the B.COM. LL.B. course at Tamil Nadu National Law University.
With the outbreak of the Corona Virus, the world has come to a standstill thereby affecting all the sectors, industries and disciplines across the globe. With this crisis likely to be the new normal, the Indian government through its various ministries and institutions is taking steps to revive the various sectors of the economy and contain the spread of the virus. In this regard, the Sports Authority of India constituted a panel consisting of six members to devise a framework for the resumption of training and practice of sports in the country. This move is crucial to revive the crashing economy and to protect the interests of the stakeholders of the industry. Also, as most of the major sports events such as the Indian Premier League, the Olympics 2020 in Tokyo etc. have been postponed and the sports fanatics across the country are eagerly looking forward to the revival of sports.
In this regard, the panel that was constituted by the Sports Authority of India has issued a framework for the resumption of practice and sports in the country. The Sports Authority has empowered the government to supersede its operations in the cases of inconsistencies. The framework draws inspiration from the Australian Framework for rebooting sports during Covid-19 times. It has formulated an elaborate structure mentioning guidelines for each sport. It also sets out detailed measures to be taken by all those being exposed to the virus due to the resumption of training activities.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE FRAMEWORK
The salient features of India’s ‘Standard Operating Procedure’ for the resumption of sports are as follows-
Firstly, the devised framework covers all the athletes, technical, non-technical and other administrative staff at the training centres and those managing the hostel including mess service providers and security guards and lastly all the visitors at such centres. Hence, it covers all kinds of personnel including those providing services in a training centre. One peculiar feature of the framework is that it applies to all the private sports institutions and training centres as well.
Secondly, a task force is recommended to be set up for monitoring the adherence to protocols as mentioned. Their main tasks would be to spread awareness among all the athletes and other staff members, ensure disinfection of regularly used equipment, entry and exit points, and lastly to update the administration on the daily events of the centre. One distinct facet is the consent forms that the athletes are required to sign to accede to the associated risks and dangers while training.
Thirdly, all the National Sports Federations have been made liable to ensure adherence to the protocols. An officer for hygiene will be appointed at each Federation to report to the COVID Task Force in case of any violations.
Fourthly, all precautionary measures for ensuring safety and hygiene will have to be taken by the training centres. Athletes would be permitted to use any training equipment only after the disinfectant is sprayed after one’s usage. Strict norms of social distancing are advised to be maintained at mess, restrooms and toilets in the residential training centres. Physiotherapy is not advisable unless necessary. It has prohibited the use of gyms and swimming pools until the government permits its usage. It also contains guidelines for usage of air conditioners and distance to be maintained between two tables at recreation rooms and mess in training centres.
Fifthly, the operating procedure has categorized sports into non-contact (cycling, archery etc.), minimal/medium contact (football, hockey etc.), full contact (boxing, wrestling etc.) sports and waters sports (swimming). Common guidelines for each category of sports include maintenance of a distance of at least two meters between players. Sports like boxing and wrestling that require contact with another person have the most restrictions. Such players are advised to use equipment like punching bags and slam balls as far as possible.
Therefore, it is needless to state that the structure of the operating procedure is elaborate and specifies each of the minute details that should be taken care of to prevent the spread of the virus. But, it is apposite to observe that the suggested protocols require developed infrastructural facilities. India is still progressing on that path. Pricewater House Coopers, in its report on ‘Sports infrastructure’ released in March 2019 analysed that India possesses the potential to develop its sports infrastructure, but lack of effective implementation of policies, shortage of land in urban areas and non-utilization of the allocated funds by states act as a hindrance in the path of development. The framework suggests separate toilets and essentials for each resident trainee. It is also suggested that the dormitories be occupied only with 25% of its capacity which means more living spaces to accommodate the resident trainees have to be built. Athletes coming from outside after the resumption of training are suggested to be quarantined in a separate building within the training premises. Construction of new rooms in addition to the already existing ones is required for physiotherapy sessions. Thus, before the protocols become effective and training resumes, the National Sports Federations should ensure that such facilities are accessible.
Another impediment in the effective implementation of these protocols could be a dearth in the available manpower. The Standing Committee on Human Resources in its report on the Khelo India scheme stated that lack of infrastructure and scarcity of human resources are the major reasons for its in-efficacious implementation. For the COVID task-force to be set up, the operating procedure necessitates personnel for maintenance of the quarantine centre, performing thermal screening and spraying disinfectants etc. It is improbable for all the training centres to get ample staff in such a short span. Even if most of the training centres possess sufficient manpower, they would have to be trained to perform the above-mentioned tasks.
The Sports Authority of India has made a move in the right path as the sports industry in the country has to get back on its feet after a long gap of 60 days. The Sports Authority should have been prompt in the constitution of committee and finalization of the draft as this move is long- overdue. But, the framework is elaborate and has covered all the aspects that resumption of training in sports centres warrant. With the resumption of airline services for domestic travel and lockdown 4.0 reaching its end, the government should ensure that all the required resources are made available at all the training centres to ensure smooth functioning of the suggested protocols. In its final report, the government should have specified the protocols that each sport has to adhere to after resumption of practice. If the government provides its best hand of support to the sports federations, the Indian Sports industry would become one of its kind to have rebooted itself after the havoc created by COVID -19.
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Cite as: Dhruti L. & Isiri S.D., Khelo India ‘Phir Se’: An Analysis Of The SAI’s Framework, Extra-Cover: The Sports Law Blog of India (12th Jun 2020), Accessed at https://www.extra-cover.org/post/khelo-india-phir-se-an-analysis-of-the-sai-s-framework [Date of Access].