It came as a relief for the sports fraternity in India when the Ministry of Home Affairs announced on Sunday that stadia and sports complexes can open if they don’t allow crowds. Denied access for several weeks to facilities where they train, athletes from various disciplines initially thought they could start their usual routine, until the riders started kicking in. It is up to the state governments to decide when these facilities would open and how they should function. For example, the situation in Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu is still not conducive for the resumption of such activities. So until the regional authorities give the green light, the ministry missive means little.
Not only is the nation far from going back to sporting ways, its athletes are also in no position to press the reboot button. Modern sports is about rigorously following a system that involves practice, diet, monitoring, rest and recovery, among other things. Gymnasiums are an integral part of this process and they are still under lockdown. With swimming pools not allowed to open and clamps on things like ice baths, saunas and massages, the aspect of recovery will not be helped either. In short, following the announcement that stadia can open, athletes can only do a part of what they are supposed to do in order to realise their goals.
Watching the resumption of the German football league, Indians sports fans can only wait for the return of competitive sports in the country. Lifting of relaxations and allowing athletes access to the facilities is only a baby step towards the goal. A lot more has to become normal before they can fully resume training. As things stand, only one step can be taken at a time and there could be long gaps between such steps. Nobody is to be blamed because the situation is such that authorities cannot think beyond a certain point at the moment. In that respect, the decision to open stadia is only a token measure. The destination everyone wants to reach is not even in sight, as far as sport in India goes.