During the final months of 2020, sports competitions were held in a frenzy as the COVID-19 pandemic was put under control across the country.

However, the pandemic is much more serious this year, thus many aspects of normal life, including sports, have been severely affected.

In a recent document, the Vietnam Sports Administration stated that two national championships would be organized on a trial basis as part of a plan to organize sports competitions safely in the country’s ‘new normal.’

The two sports events are expected to begin in late October in provinces and cities where the pandemic has been deemed under control.

The organizing boards of these competitions must closely coordinate with health and disease control authorities, which will set examples to other sports events as well as prepare for the organization of the 31st Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in 2022, according to Tran Duc Phan, deputy head of the Vietnam Sports Administration.

Safety is top priority

All participants at the two sporting events will be required to follow social distancing rules, file health declarations, and test negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of arriving in the localities where the competitions take place.

Those coming from high-risk areas must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, while those from low-risk localities must be vaccinated with at least one dose.

They will have to undergo rapid testing once every three days throughout the events.

The gymnasium where the VBA Premier Bubble Games takes place is regularly disinfected. Photo: VBA

The sports hall where the VBA Premier Bubble Games takes place is regularly disinfected. Photo: VBA

People who take part in the tournaments will be divided into three groups.

Group 1 includes members of the central organizing board, officials, coaches, athletes, doctors, supervisors, and referees. Group 2 consists of members of the localities’ organizing boards as well as media and service providers. Group 3 includes others who do not belong to Groups 1 and 2.

Group 1 must avoid contact with Group 2 and people outside of the competitions, and must not leave their designated areas. Group 3 must not come into contact with Group 1 and is able to come into limited contact with Group 2 when necessary.

Throughout the tournaments, the host localities need to prepare sufficient technical tools and infrastructure, as well as being ready for all pandemic scenarios, while participants must comply with strict regulations promulgated by the organizing boards.

In fact, a similar model has been applied by the organizing board of the ongoing Vietnam Basketball Association (VBA) Premier Bubble Games in Nha Trang City, Khanh Hoa Province.

Hundreds of members of the VBA have practiced and competed in nearly 40 games. They are required to stay at the Muong Thanh – Vien Trieu Hotel for about three months and are only allowed to travel between the hotel and basketball court.

Members of the organizing board, referees, coaches, players, and court and hotel staff are divided into several groups, with each group having limited contact with one another, traveling in separated vehicles, having separate entrances, and undergoing regular COVID-19 testing.

This model has proved effective as hundreds of VBA members have been safe since the beginning of the competition, which will set a foundation for other sports events to take place safely in the ‘new normal.’

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