Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports in India on Tuesday said that sporting activities will start in the country now and all the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs will be followed.

His remarks came as the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) laid out new guidelines allowing sports complexes and stadiums to reopen but it was said that spectators will not be permitted during the lockdown period, which has been extended till May 31.

“Sporting activity will start but the guidelines of the MHA need to be followed, there are certain restrictions and they have to be followed, SAI has already made its Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), it needs to be followed because there are different sports and maintaining the safety of players is of utmost importance,” Rijiju told ANI.

“We want to start the activities but at the same time we have to ensure that health and safety are given top priority, we are also giving a go-ahead to private academies which come under the Khelo India scheme, our purpose is to give athletes the room to train as they have been under lockdown for almost two months,” the minister added.

Rijiju added that the SOP has already been created so the training will start immediately and all other SAI academies will also be given permission to start training with their sports complex.

“We have already issued the SOP and all SAI sports academies will be allowed to start training, we are also authorising all other academies to start there sporting activities within the sporting complex, it has to be within the norms and the activities need to be done inside the arena, you cannot have activities anywhere,” the minister said.

“Covid-19 has had a deep impact on the sports sector because there are so many people who are affected, many people in this sector have been affected, some are jobless so we have to start the activities so that everybody can be engaged again,” Rijiju said.

On Monday, the minister had already clarified that the training of athletes will start, however, the use of swimming pools and gymnasium will remain suspended.

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