Stadiums around the world have started opening their gates for crowds in the stands, but the situation in India doesn’ yet allow that. The latest example is that of the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL) and the T20 World Cup.
The IPL got postponed in May and then the second leg was forced to be shifted to the UAE in September-October. The same happened with the T20 World Cup, which India had to host but was left with no other choice than to take it to the UAE as well, while the BCCI remained the host board.
The Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar, however, will be played in India as decided but in front of empty stands at Bhubaneswar’s Kalinga Stadium.
The Khordha district, under which Bhubaneswar falls, accounts for 47.91% of the active cases in Odisha as of October 29. The organisers thus took the wise decision to not allow spectators. But it will surely create a ripple effect in terms of visitors getting extra cautious.
The Germans, for instance, have already planned heightened precautions during their travel to India and the subsequent stay here.
“The team already has a very strict hygiene protocol in times of the pandemic, which is now being worked out in more detail for the trip and adapted to the local conditions,” said Christoph Plass, the Media officer of the German federation, in reply to Timesofindia.com’s query.
For their flight to Delhi, the federation has booked a “compartment” so the players may sit only with their team-mates and cut close contact with other passengers on board.
“For the flight, a compartment is booked for the team on the plane, so that the team sits directly next to each other and no other passengers in the middle,” he added.
For the onward domestic flight from Delhi to Bhubaneswar, the Germans have made a special request for “additional hygienic security”.
“In addition, for the transfer in Delhi, the airport staff has been asked to accompany the team to the onward flight to Bhubaneswar and to provide additional hygienic security on the way there,” he said without elaborating further on that.
The German federation has also made special requests at the hotel where they will be staying for the length of the tournament.
“There is a clear briefing for the hotel and hotel staff regarding contact with the players. There will be separate seating and dining areas for the team,” the Media Officer said without revealing the name of the hotel.
(File image of the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar – Photo courtesy: Hockey India Twitter)
The Government of India has already waived the mandatory home-quarantine requirement for the visiting teams, provided their RT-PCR tests 72 hours before departure and upon arrival in India are negative.
Australia, New Zealand and England have withdrawn from the tournament, owing to Covid-related travel restrictions. The spots that opened up after their withdrawal have gone to the USA, Canada and Poland.