The resumption of sports the world over in the last few weeks has seen a common feature. Cricket in England, football in Europe and golf in the US are all played in a ‘bio-bubble’. In short, it is a secure environment where players and others who have to be there are staying in designated places with restrictions on entry and exit. The venues they are playing in also have this kind of arrangement in place. The idea is to ensure that those inside the ‘bubble’ do not come in contact with the outside world and vice versa.
This concept becomes important in the Indian context as authorities here have started permitting sporting activities in the form of training camps for various sports. And there have been Covid-19 cases as well. In hockey and badminton, players have tested positive. Members of the support staff, Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials and some essential service providers have also caught the virus. One can naturally ask if the time is right for such activities.
Before answering that, let us see the difference between sports that have resumed in other countries and the training camps in our nation. Bio-bubble is not yet a regular practice in India. Barring those sports at SAI centres in Patiala and Bengaluru, camps (both national and local) saw athletes travel to the venue from home. Most of the positive cases have come from this group. Inside the venue, they are following social distancing and all that, without remaining secluded from the world outside.
To avoid cases like in badminton, bio-bubbles needs to be created. The responsibility of enforcing them lies with the sports ministry and the SAI as well as the athletes and support staff. They have to realise that under the circumstances, sports can happen only in specifically designed conditions with a low-risk possibility. If need be, authorities should make an extra effort to explain the importance of maintaining this environment instead of just handing out standard operative procedures. This is important because positive cases could be a new norm in the months to come. So if sports and training are considered necessary, getting used to the bio-bubble has to be the first step.