CHENNAI : During the peak of the coronavirus infection there, Wuhan transformed its sports stadiums into medical centres to accommodate patients. Soon, sports facilities in India too could be turned into medical centres. With the number of cases rising, there is a possibility that Sports Authority of India (SAI) centres with hostel facilities could be converted into isolation wards or intensive care units, if necessary. The sports ministry has said that all sports centres under SAI’s jurisdiction are now available to the health ministry at any time.
Sports secretary RS Julaniya confirmed this and said that in the interest of public health, the sports ministry has directed SAI to allow health departments of state and centre to use its facilities wherever available and whenever needed. “It’s a global pandemic we are dealing with,” said Julaniya. “Under these circumstances, all departments need to work together. In the interest of public health, all centres of Sports Authority of India, including its hostels would be made available to the health ministry.”
The National Boxing Academy in Rohtak is one such centre that could be taken over by the district administration for accommodating patients. It could be used as a quarantine facility or a medical centre.
SAI officials have confirmed that the Rohtak district administration has already got in touch with them. After SAI closed all centres due to the global pandemic, all trainees have left for home and the facility is unoccupied right now. In fact, the infrastructure was provided by the Haryana Urban Development Authority and the facility is run by SAI. It is also a Khelo India centre.
There have been indications that the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune too would be converted into a quarantine facility if the need arises. SAI, though, has not received any formal communication. However, if required after its latest decision, it should not be a problem.
All of the SAI centres, can accommodate close to 5000 sportspersons. Most of them share in twos and sometimes in threes. Some can house more than three as well. It is estimated that if health administrators use most of the premises, then they should be able to house at least 1200-1500 patients and individuals.
“I have already spoken to SAI DG and he is instructing Regional Directors of all SAI centres to make its facilities available,” said Julaniya. The sports secretary has spoken to the VC of Lakshmibai National Institute of Physical Education as well.