It has been over a month since The Office of the Prime Minister released a press note “Venturing into the new normal: Unlocking period ends” on 10th of September.
The document entailed unlocking of sports following precautions and limited capacity measures along with other relaxations like for public gathering, schools, colleges and institutes, business entities and inter-district movement of people.
The health protocols which were directed to the Bhutan Olympic Committee was further distributed as mandatory Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to each of the allotted sports federation which were mentioned in the document.
For the first few days the sports grounds in the capital did not see much people coming in to the stadiums, with tennis court just seeing a few enthusiasts who had come at around 7 am in the morning, while other grounds remained quite sparse as well.
Seeing football being allotted as well in the press release, was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser for some people and questioned on how it would be safe to play the sport under current best health practices.
A sports personality said “That is the last game I would think of playing in such a situation”.
However, in conversation with Phuntsho Wangdi, Head Media and Marketing for Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) he said “There was approval for the proposal by the Health Ministry, the Government, FIFA and also the AFC whereby there are a lot of regulations, the basic one is wearing a mask while you are entering the field of play- this is for officials and players on the bench”.
“Among others measures sanitizing the players hands, sanitizing the dressing room and we also keep a close lookout for any symptoms and check their temperatures” he added.
He said that the above measures are mainly in place for the Bhutan Premier League players whereas for other people there are temperature checking devices at the entry point and that they have to compulsorily wash their hands, before and after the match.
He added “additionally, in order to avoid crowding we have made it so that after every match we will have a one-hour gap so that when the next team comes there is no crowding”.
There have been no changes or relaxations in any of the above protocols and they are still in place.
As per the press release, even archery resumed at the Bhutan Archery Federation (BAF). According to Ms. Pema, BAF the government had allotted the federation to take in 15 archers in day, however with further inter division discussions the federation decided to take in 7 archers a day, each archer being allocated one target to practice on.
She said that apart from health SOPs and guidelines provided by the Health ministry, plans and facilities had been developed and the archers are playing on a rotation system as per team basis namely; team A B and C.
As for tennis and badminton according to the General secretaries of both the federations, the SOPs would be pretty much similar considering that both are racket sports.
Tshering Namgay, General secretary of Bhutan Tennis Federation (BTF) stated that once the school starts the regular squad players could be classified perhaps varying on their age groups and the teams would be rotated on alternate basis in order to maintain safe distancing from each other.
The press release notes also enabled sports facilities like gym, yoga, dance studios and rubber tracks to operate at 50 percent capacity along with other non-contact sports like golf, athletics and table tennis.
The business closing time of 9 pm will not be applicable in case of sport activities.