Despite SAI rap, social distancing absent at wrestling nationals
Noida, Jan 24 (IANS) The second day of the National Freestyle Wrestling Championships saw little change from the first as far as adhering to the Sports Ministry's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for conducting competitions amid the Covid-19 pandemic was concerned.
On Sunday, the second and final day of the competition, entry into the competition area at the Noida Stadium was restricted but the situation in the spectators' stands remained more or less the same. Moreover, spectators and fans continued to mingle with the wrestlers in the area around the practice mat that was separated from the competition area.
Masks or face covers in the stands appeared only on the few occasions that officials went around asking people to wear them. Alternate seating was also absent as spectators sat on the steps of the indoor stadium in the absence of chairs.
However, the presence of plush sofas and chairs did not result in alternate seating on the dais, beside the two wrestling mats, either where officials and dignitaries, including WFI President and BJP MP Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, were seated.
"Problem is that sports activities have opened up after a long time. This is the first real sports activity which had given entry to the general public. Many wrestlers have not fought for a long time and so their supporters and friends were here. The general public has also been starved of any sort of wrestling action and so they also came. It was difficult to control all of that and it was important for us to hold these nationals," a WFI official admitted while speaking to IANS.
The Sports Authority of India (SAI) earlier on Sunday said that it had asked the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) to furnish a report by Monday on the violation of SOP guidelines for competitions to be held amid Covid-19 on the first day of the nationals. It also said that it had "impressed upon them that the SOP for competitions has to be adhered to strictly".
This was after the first day of the competition saw hundreds of spectators gathering to watch the nationals in the indoor wrestling hall of the Noida Stadium. Referees officiating bouts wore face shields and masks, but few others did the same while freely roaming around the competition area.
The Sports Ministry on December 27 had released in its SOP or resumption of sports competitions in the country. It had put a cap of 200 people to be allowed in the stands if the event is taking place in a closed space. It had also asked for thermal screening to be done at the entrance of the competition area, which was absent for much of the duration for which the wrestling nationals was held.