Private Archery Ranges not following COVID-19 protocol

Archery matches in Paro, Shabha and Thimphu, Dechencholing were the major reasons for the second outbreak spreading far and wide leading to the second national lockdown, but archery match enthusiasts appear not to have learned their lessons.

Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) in consultation with national sports federations and associations allowed tournaments since March 1 based on the new protocols of safety allowing only ten players. 

Spectators, refreshment servers and dancers are prohibited while the pandemic remains, but already many players exceed the limit set accounting for a lot of risks. Most do not wear face masks or maintain adequate distance.

During the second nationwide lockdown Mongar Dzongkhag court sentenced 16 men from Ngatshang gewog and eight women from Saling Gewog  to six months in prison for playing archery and khuru during the nationwide lockdown for violating public order and tranquility, and purposely failing to abide by the orders of the government issued in the interest of public safety, public order and tranquility stated in section 448 of Bhutan penal code 2004.

Father Kinley Tshering a resident alongside of the archery range below RTC said that during the times like this people should be mindful of the mass gatherings and safety protocols, most of the weekends the archery range is filled with many archers. “It worries me being a resident because there might be local transmission and not only that the arrows land right in my compound.”

Students passing by the RTC road said one time the arrow just passed before them while they were walking down the road. They also said that they see plenty cars parked near the archery range.

Thimphu Dzongrab, Tashi Gyeltshen , said  that as for the safety protocols, the responsibility is given to the person who has taken over the archery range on lease and they should follow the rules. He said that Desuup and police should be deployed for the safety measures.

The Dzongrab said “I would welcome the requirements and suggestions set by the BIGSA but other than that we have tried our best.”

Similarly, there are several archery ranges in and around Thimphu and also across the country where more than 10 archers can be seen playing without facemasks and violating all COVID protocol.

Namgay Wangchuk, head of the sports division of Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) said that BOIC federation has been following the protocols strictly and as for the privately owned archery ranges he said they are not aware of how many archery ranges are there but the COVID task force has been informed to be vigilant on the private archery ranges.

He also said that they have not received any official complaint so far but if there is any complaint lodged stringent action will be taken against the players and the owner of the archery range.

Gopa Gem Dorji from the emergency crime branch said that if anyone breaks or has been reported to break the COVID protocol they will warn the person at first and on repeated offence they will take serious action.

“Though we had our first dose of vaccine we cannot rely on it or be complacent on the rules, it takes only one mistake to damage the entire world by spreading of corona virus. We are lucky enough to have supportive government and task force, because of single man’s carelessness our education gets affected, businesses gets shut and likewise many chores get delayed so it is really important to follow simple protocols which can save many lives and resources,” said Tandin Wangchuk, student of RTC.

Similarly Tshencho Dorji, a taxi driver from Kabesa who plays archery on weekends said that they have lesser number of players in his team but he said other teams still plays in more than ten numbers and the players are mostly contractors and government officials.

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