Allowing sporting events-- a hasty decision or a bold move?

India had close to 1000 positive cases when the lockdown started and now the number of positive cases has crossed the 1 Lakh mark.


Union Sports Minister for Youth Affairs & Sports Kiren Rijiju recently made an announcement whereby National Sports Federations have been permitted to organise sports events without the involvement of spectators. 

The minister also said that  Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) laid out by the Union Sports Ministry will be rigorously implemented during the sporting events.

It must be mentioned that in the wake of the ongoing lockdown, major sporting events including the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) was postponed in April and continues to remain suspended till date. And the same has been the fate of  all other major sporting events in the country.

While the lockdown is being eased in a phased way, the big concern remains the fast growing rate of covid-19 positive cases. Just to add some numbers, before the lockdown was announced, India had close to 1000 cases, and now, when the lockdown is being eased, the number of positive cases has crossed the 1 Lakh mark. 

In such a context,  some experts argue that  the permission to host sporting events might pose a potential risk to players and organisers. There are some who argue that ‘living with the virus’ till the vaccine is found is the new reality and we have to adjust our lives and businesses to it.

To understand the implications of the Union Sports Minister’s announcement, we spoke to some experts about the development and here is what they had to say:

Ranjit Raina, CEO, Geometry Encompass

The decision on allowing sports federations to host events can't be considered in isolation of the immediate ground reality.  For parts of the country that are in the Green Zone, this would be a welcome move and a sign of things slowly returning to normal. In the orange zone, one would imagine that there would be restrictions on the congregation of people. But this move to reopen sports isn't unique to India, one is seeing many other countries looking at similar steps. I think we need to accept that things aren't the way they used to be and need to plan for what everyone calls the new normal.

Ashish Pherwani, Partner- Media and Entertainment, EY India

On one hand there is dearth of sporting entertainment, on the other hand the risk of infection. Proper technological systems and checks would be needed to ensure continuous, real time monitoring of players and support staff so cases can be quickly identified and dealt with, as well as other policy driven controls.

Shaju I. Ignatius, Founder Director, The Ignite Enterprise

If the right preventive measures and strict regulations are followed, it would be fantastic for Sporting Events to be back again. Of course in the current situation for some time ahead, it could possibly only be held with a closed stadium model. 

Millions of sports fans and enthusiasts could get to partake this via broadcast and webcast, and there could be a wave of positivity & virtual togetherness.

Jyoti Kumar Bansal, CEO, PHD Media India

In this current climate, there is a need to balance both the physical and mental aspects of our health, and sports undoubtedly helps relieve some of the stress of the current situation while also helping to rejuvenate the economy. Having said that, on-camera sports appear to be the main form of spectator events for some time to come. A planned and strategic approach to opening up will not only allow the industry to keep the ecosystem alive, supporting its multiple stakeholders in the process, but also keep fans entertained while staying safe.

Rajesh Varma, Founder Director, CRI Events Pvt Ltd 

If all the safety norms are followed completely then yes the economy has to move on. We have to follow strict- very strict norms ! And people need to adhere and laws need to be passed for people breaking norms.

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