The year 2020 has been no less than a challenge for anyone across any sector, owing to the prevailing COVID-19 pandemic. Consequently, sporting events in India have been suspended for the past ten months.

Meanwhile, as the new year approaches and relaxations on restrictions being imposed, the Indian Sports Ministry is planning on resuming sporting action in the country. As per a fresh Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) issued by it, venues capacity can conduct the events with 50% capacity.

"A COVID Task Force shall be constituted for each sporting competition by the organizing committee to guide and monitor all athletes and Athlete Support Personnel (ASPs). This Task Force shall be responsible for overall implementation of protocols outlines in this SOP and other direction issued by the MHA and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare from time to time," read a circular issued by the Sports Ministry, reports PTI.

"The spectators at the sporting event would be in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs. For outdoor events, spectators will be allowed up to 50% of the total capacity of the stadium. CCTV monitoring may be planned for larger events to detect over-crowding at entry and exit gates and seating areas," it further read.

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"The sports competitions may resume, provided no orders of the local authorities prohibit such facilities to resume operation, i.e. micro-containment zones and are meant to serve as safety guidelines for organizing the sports competition in consonance with any other guidelines issued by the State Government while granting such permission," it also noted.

As for the safety of athletes, the Ministry issued guidelines for them as well. "Depending on the risk perception and the scale of events, organising committee may consider making RT-PCR Testing of athletes and ASPs carried out within 72 hours prior to the event. Only those having negative RT-PCT report shall be allowed to participate in the event," read the circular.

"ASPs who are at higher risk, i.e. older, pregnant and those who have underlying medical conditions must take extra precaution. They should preferably not be exposed to any front-line work requiring direct contact with other athletes/coaches/other employees," it further added.

As of now, cricket is likely to be the second sport to resume in the nation after the ongoing Indian Super League (ISL), with India hosting England for a complete tour, from February 5. India's last cricketing action was supposed to be March, when South Africa was touring India for an ODI series, only to be called off after the first game, which was washed out.