As the countrywide shutdown that lasted for more than two months to contain the spread of coronavirus came to a halt yesterday, different sectors in the country have reopened and sports are no exception.
Major sports federation that were partially or fully closed also opened their offices partly as per their previous announcement to follow the government guidelines on reopening. On restarting actual sporting activities — which have been suspended for nearly two and a half months — the federations have stuck to their stance of observing the situation first and then taking a decision.
Before the coronavirus outbreak in the country, 31 federations and its athletes were engaged in preparing for the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Games, which was slotted for April 1-10 before the Bangladesh Olympic Association (BOA) postponed the ninth edition on March 11, just six days after unveiling the logo and mascot of the Games.
Most of those federations have virtually no engagements until the return of the Bangladesh Games, which is also considered the national championships for different disciplines. Although sports like cricket, football, hockey and a few others may return to the field of play in a small scale — subject to the improvement of the coronavirus situation — most sports federations will see little activity other than running national camps until the Bangladesh Games are staged.
“Since the suspension of the Bangabandhu Bangladesh Games in early March, we did not get an opportunity to sit together to discuss the matter, especially after the countrywide shutdown was enforced. Now, we will get the opportunity to rethink about the Games as the country is opening gradually and we also want to hold the Games when the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic improves,” BOA Secretary General Syed Shahed Reza told The Daily Star.
“We have to do something because we can’t sit idle, but we have to observe the situation and stay safety. Although it is too early to make any comment on the Games, I hope we can arrange the Games in October-November if everything goes well. I hope the situation improves by then,” said the former diplomat. “The Games have remained as it is with 31 disciplines and I am hopeful that it can take place with 31 disciplines when the situation improves. However, the process may be different.”
“Personally, I am thinking of whether it is possible to hold the Games in segments with seven to eight disciplines at a time. For instance, we can hold the Indoor sports in one or two days before holding another group of sports at another time. But I have to discuss it at the executive meeting of the Bangladesh Olympic Association as well as with sports organisers,” said Reza.
BOA has already spent approximately Tk 7 crore to arrange Bangabandhu Bangladesh Games, although the government had not released any funds against BOA’s estimated budget of Tk 30 crore.
If the government can’t provide money in time for the start of the Games, I do not think it will stop the Games from taking place because we also held the Bangladesh Youth Games with our own funds. If the situation returns to normal, money can’t be a barrier. I have confidence that I can manage the fund,” vowed Reza.