With live sports returning in China, with secure environments in place, what can India learn from them?
The big news in Asian football this week is the start of the 2020 Chinese Super League (CSL) season on July 25, after a five month delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The competition should have originally started on February 22 earlier this year, only for the Coronavirus to throw normal life out of gear.
But the CSL is finally set to kick-off, albeit in a tightly-controlled environment with a several major changes to the format. Instead of the home-and-away system, the 16 CSL teams will be divided into two groups where they will play each other once in a round robin format. The top four teams from each group will then play a championship stage while the bottom four will play a relegation round.
All in all, CSL’s 2020 season is set to be completed in 70 days at two centralised venues behind closed doors. While one group will be based in Suzhou near Shanghai, the other group will play in Dalian.
All the games in CSL this season are free to watch via mobiles.
The Indian Super League (ISL) and I-League – India‘s two top leagues are also set to play the 2020-21 season at centralised venues. The pandemic has eased in China which was the epicentre but India has seen record increases in the infection rate of late. As such, it could very well be the case that by November 2020 (which is when the ISL and I-League are expected to start), the All India Football Federation (AIFF) might well have to take a leaf out of CSL’s books when it comes to social distancing protocols.
CSL organisers have implemented extremely strict measures to create a bio-secure bubble in which all the various stakeholders will remain till the end of the competition. What exactly are these measures?
What is the Bio-Bubble in CSL?
All the teams have been housed in a sealed-off hotel at each venue – Taimei Xiangguli Hotel in Suzhou and the Crowne Plaza in Dalian. Moreover, the players will only be allowed to go to the stadium and the training pitch apart from the hotel.
How is the safety of the Bio-Bubble maintained?
All players, staff and anybody associated with the competition were tested for the virus before entering the ‘environment’. All overseas players were quarantined and tested before they were allowed to join their teams.
To be specific, everyone is required to complete one antibody and two nucleic acid tests within three weeks before arriving at the zone hotel, and only after passing these tests can they proceed.
1870 people have received Covid-19 tests in Suzhou and Dalian.
All living and match areas have been divided into Blue, Green and Purple zones.