Enthused by the state government order that has allowed full seating capacity for outdoor events at stadiums and sports complexes outside containment zones, city sporting associations said they were slowly gearing up to welcome back spectators. But all Covid-19 SOPs will be strictly adhered to, they added.
In the last few weeks, the city has already hosted a number of domestic cricket and football tournaments keeping the players in bio bubbles and without allowing any spectators. While many organizers are still keen to follow the same for ongoing tournaments, others have decided to follow specific state guidelines while slowly opening the doors of the stadiums.
“The Vijay Hazare Trophy is set to start from the middle of this month and although the fixtures aren’t decided yet, Eden Gardens will host a number of matches. And if the state government gives us permission, we will allow spectators for those matches,” said Snehasish Ganguly, the Cricket Association of Bengal secretary. Kolkata, Mumbai, Baroda, Indore and Bangalore are expected to host the league matches of the domestic 50-over tournament.
Indian Football Association general secretary Joydeep Mukherjee said he will have a meeting with clubs from all divisions to discuss about conducting the Calcutta Football League by the end of March. “We would love to have the fans in the stands. Even if we decide to have supporters, all safety measures will be strictly adhered to,” he said.
Bengal Olympic Association president Swapan Banerjee, too, said that it was their aim to resume all the sporting action that were stopped owing to the pandemic. “If possible and following all protocols, we would also like to have fans for meets,” said Banerjee.
Some like All India Football Federation Leagues CEO Sunando Dhar, however, preferred to maintain caution as of now. “The safety of the players and match officials is of prime importance. Right now, we have no plans to change our current standard operating procedure,” said Dhar.
The I-League is being played in Bengal from January 9 at three stadiums: Salt Lake Stadium, Mohun Bagan ground and Kalyani Stadium with all team members and match officials in a bio-bubble. The Kishore Bharati Krirangan off EM Bypass is also expected to host matches soon.
Officials at Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Eastern centre in Salt Lake that had opened its doors for athletes on November said they were waiting a nod from the Centre to allow outsiders on the campus. “Currently, the whole campus is in a bio-bubble where players from three disciplines – archery, athletics and hockey – are being trained. We have received SOPs for opening of swimming pools but have sent a proposal for some urgent repair works of the pool following which we will open it,” said Vineet Kumar, the regional director, SAI Eastern centre.