The Indian government on Sunday extended the nationwide lockdown till May 31 but issued new guidelines and rules with more relaxations in its order.
Sports stadiums will be allowed to open across the country to host matches but without fans even as the Indian government ordered an extension of the nationwide lockdown till May 31 on Sunday.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) laid out new guidelines and rules for Lockdown 4.0, in which it was mentioned that stadium will be permitted to open without any spectators.
“Sports complexes and stadia will be permitted to open; however, spectators will not be allowed,” the MHA press release stated.
The new rules will be a big relief for athletes from all sports in the country. All tournaments and events related to sports have either been cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However sports being played without crowd is an idea that has been heavily mooted, including resumption of hockey, cricket and football matches across the country. However, that said, public gathering in big numbers are still prohibited and since sports fall under the same category, just how much of that decision comes as a relief for Indian sports bodies remains to be seen.
In all likelihood, stadiums reopening could have to do with the fact that most of India’s athletes, since the lockdown was imposed on March 24, have been left stranded at the SAI Centre in Bengaluru and Patiala, and now that venues will no longer remain locked, athletes of various sports can have access to their respective stadiums to undergo training.
Last week, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju held a series of video conferences to take the athletes’ view on the matter. Earlier this month, he had declared that the ministry was aiming for a phased resumption of national camps by the end of this month for at least the Olympic-bound athletes.
Although the relaxation bodes well for sports and athletes in India, the future of the much-anticipated Indian Premier League remains unknown. The possibility of the IPL taking place inside closed doors is a topic that has been doing the rounds ever since the tournament was first postponed to April 15. However, with restrictions in terms of public gathering and travel restrictions still in place, the status of the IPL is still uncertain.