India’s chief national badminton coach P. Gopichand on Monday said he is still awaiting clear-cut instructions with regard to resumption of regular training for shuttlers at the two badminton academies run by him – one his own private academy and the other run under the banner of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) at Gachibowli in Hyderabad.
“It is pointed out when the government issued guidelines that stadia can be reopened, it didn’t necessarily mean academies. For academies are defined as training institutes. Hence, we have to wait for clear guidelines on when to resume our activity,” Gopichand told Sportstar.
“So, effectively, as things stand, the status quo is maintained and no training is being thought of. Only when we get a clear picture of what exactly are the dos and don’ts with regard to resumption of training will we come out with a plan of action,” he said.
“Apparently, we have to be very cautious and extremely careful in this regard. Players’ health and safety are of paramount importance. And we are also doubly keen to take care of everyone involved in training activity like the support staff and the maintenance staff at the academy as far as safety measures are concerned,” he added.
Meanwhile, the draft of the SAI’s Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has suggested that the initial phase of training can be in small groups of 8-10 with no contact, before bigger groups can be considered.
“Athletes and staff shall be subjected to basic screening to detect any concerning ailments. Screening and checkup should be verified by the doctor in charge at the respective SAI centre,” the SAI said in the draft SOP.
“All the athletes joining the training facilities afresh shall be tested for COVID-19 to prevent any chance of infection to the personnel who have been staying in an infection-free environment at the training facilities.”
The SOP has suggested that a COVId-19 taskforce be identified at each training centre to guide and monitor all trainees and staff within the centres. “The taskforce shall include the chief coaching staff from each NSF (national sports federation) as its member. The centre-in-charge is the ex-officio chairman of the taskforce and is responsible for overall implementation of protocols outlined in this SOP,” it said, while making the Aarogya Setu app mandatory for all athletes.
The taskforce is to ensure that each athlete and the NSF staff provide signed forms declaring their consent and knowledge of the limitations and risks associated with training in the current scenario.
“All areas within the premises shall be disinfected using clinically approved disinfectants and no spectators shall be allowed within the training centre at any given time. Only athletes and training staff shall be present at the venue,” the SOP draft suggested even as it stressed that all physiotherapy and massages are to be avoided unless absolutely necessary.