Though sports activities have been allowed to resume in Bengaluru, normalcy has not returned.
Lokesh SP, head coach of the Jyothy Aquatic Centre, informed The Observer: “Our pool is of 25 metres with four lanes. Following all the regulations and safety precautions of the central government is difficult during an economic crisis like this.”
The Centre released a standard operating procedure (SOP) to reopen swimming pools from October 15 for competitive swimmers representing a state or the country. The SOP instructs opening pools only for four hours a day and not exceeding two swimmers in one lane.
“To open four hours a day, we need two coaches, a lifeguard, one pump operator, a maid, and security. We won’t earn enough to pay these people’s salaries. Additionally, we require chemicals and have to pay the electricity bill for a 9hp motor and 3hp vacuum. Hence, the expenditure will be more than income,” Lokesh added.
Violating the SOP, a few swimming pools are allowing people without Covid-negative certificates. Nivedan Bhardwaj, a regular swimmer at a club in Kengeri, alleged that it is allowing more than 14 people per batch.
Asked about his safety concerns, he said: “I cannot use a mask while swimming. People spit in the water due to the chlorine present. Swimming goggles have, though, been made mandatory.”
But Praveen MP, the administrator of the club, said: “We have reopened the pool for zonal swimmers. Although WHO says Covid doesn’t spread through water, we remain shut for the general public.”
Gyms and other sports academies are not running at full capacity, “We have mandated the use of masks, gloves and sanitizers, besides social distancing. Despite all this, we have barely 30-40% of our regular members back,” said Dhanush M, a trainer at the Body Fitness Gym.
Fearing the virus, many parents have withdrawn their children from coaching camps.
Sachin Kumar, a basketball coach at Tenvic Sports, said: “Coaching is resuming slowly. Now it is one to one, just coach and the student, instead of a team. We train in open court with cleanliness and safety measures. Only 50% students have returned since we resumed training. From health and happiness to education, sports is a necessity for children.”
Shutting down sports complexes has adversely affected the fitness level of players.
Sruthi Arvind, a national basketball player, said: “Lockdown was like offseason. Now we all lack stamina. To maintain social distancing, all we now do is shooting practice and conditioning.”
A silver lining to the sports industry is the booming bicycle business. The Decathlon store on Mysuru Road has seen cycle sales growing from 0.5% in 2019 to 53.6% in 2020.
“We have regular enquiries, and are unable to meet demand and supply, especially (that of) geared cycles,” said Ripin Kumar, a part-time employee at Decathlon.
“Pre-lockdown people spent at least 3-4 hours in traffic. Now since it is work from home, they have extra hours to keep fit. By cycling, they can go out while remaining safe, unlike any other contact sports. This is also the best thing children can do instead of using their phones the entire day,” said GP Gagan Reddy, a national-level cyclist.
According to a study conducted by the Norway University of Science and Technology, kids need to exercise regularly to have a positive effect on multiple aspects of cognition and self-esteem. Since schools across Karnataka remain closed, it is difficult for students to exercise daily.
With experts predicting a second wave of coronavirus in Karnataka, the ray of hope for the sports fraternity looks obscure.