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Health guidelines neglected at sports events

  • Published at 02:39 pm September 10th, 2020
Action from the Women's Baseball in Paltan last September Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Two taekwondo and rugby competitions have taken place, and one baseball tournament is being played, but health regulations and social distancing have been ignored on each occasion

The government has set 10 health guidelines to maintain while arranging sports activities during the pandemic but they are not being followed at the country’s sports hub in Paltan, better known as stadium para.

The sports ministry on August 10 permitted the resumption of events and training activities, binding a set of rules, after around five months. 

Two taekwondo and rugby competitions took place since then, and one baseball tournament is being played, but health regulations and social distancing have been ignored on each occasion.

Some 10 sports venues are located around the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Paltan-Gulistan area where social distancing in public spaces are rarely met. 

The place is often crowded since nearby markets, offices, street shops and all businesses have reopened.

It is difficult to arrange tournaments in such environment by following all the guidelines and the federations too failed miserably to combat the spread of the virus.

No tests, unnecessary gathering

In order to arrange sports events and training facilities, the No 3 rule in the guidelines recommended by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is that – players, coaches, management committee and everyone else involved should undergo tests. 

None of the federation ensured Covid-19 tests of more than 300 players, coaches and officials who participated in the three tournaments.

The efficiency of testing participants, considering the venue that is located at a crowded place might be a big hassle for organisers, but they also couldn’t control the gatherings.

Oblivious of the Covid-19 rules, teammates sit close to each other Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Let alone the playgrounds, players and officials’ zones, galleries and sidelines and opening and prize-giving ceremony neglected the No 6 rule that says, “Games can be arranged by ensuring that not many people have gathered. The spectators should maintain a minimum one-meter distance from each other. The spectators should maintain enough distance while taking seats inside the stadium. A seat should be kept empty between two spectators.”

Paltan math or field , a tiny remaining portion of historic Paltan Maidan, hosted two tournaments at its western part, while the rest are used for cricket practice regularly since sports activities resumed. 

Three cricket academies practice five days a week, while two train every day by following safety rules and avoiding gathering, informed Sheikh Russel Cricket Academy manager Jalal to Dhaka Tribune.

It was the second day of the national women’s baseball championship where two semi-finals were held. 

Jalal was looking at the other half of field where more than 100 people including officials, players, spectators, guests and outsiders made for a horribly crowded place, completely ignoring the Covid-19 threat. 

“You wouldn’t find many people there when there is no tournament,” said Jalal.

Bangladesh Baseball-Softball Association also neglected the first rule, that says, before opening the field and practice facilities, it should be equipped with pandemic preventive equipments such as mask, gloves, sanitizers and non-contact infrared thermometer. 

Some outsiders were found sneaking into the playing field when the second semi-final was going on, which says much about the capability of the organizers.

There was no arrangement in place to check body temperature of the players, coaches, management staff and spectators while entering the field, which was mentioned in the No 7 health guideline.  

Facemask dilemma

World Health Organization states that one should not wear mask while exercising, as mask may reduce the ability to breathe comfortably. 

Sweat can make the mask become wet more quickly which makes it difficult to breathe and promotes the growth of microorganisms.

The athletes seemed to be guided wrongly with regards to wearing masks during the game as many of them were seen playing with facemask during all the three tournaments.

“It’s a problem when one wears facemask during exercise. It is difficult to inhale oxygen and normal breathing when mask is on,” said football physio Hossain Mohammad Syfuzzaman Chayan, who was Lt. Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club Limited’s physio in the last ten years before moving to Mohammedan Sporting Club Limited for next season.

Authorities unaware

People are being affected and passing away due to Covid-19 everyday. 

The government decided to resume sports events in limited scale attaching a set of health guidelines when the infection rate was downward. 

But some federations have been unable to follow the rules and guidelines, making a mockery of the country’s Covid-19 status. 

Rugby federation holding a “demo” tournament for the sake of corona awareness was one of a kind. 

Baseball association’s neglect in the subject of mass gathering was visible for all to see.

State Minister for Youth and Sports couldn’t be reached over phone for a comment. 

National Sports Council director Masud Karim though was unaware of the recent developments. 

He told Dhaka Tribune, “Copies of health guidelines have been sent to all federations to follow if they organize tournaments. I’m not aware of the situation yet. If we receive any complaint, we shall take steps.”

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