Thinley Namgay  

The number of players during an archery game is still limited to 10. This is the threshold set by the National Covid-19 task force in the wake of the pandemic.  

Despite the standing regulation, most of the archery matches today — official and informal — are seen with more than 10 players.   

An official from the Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association (BIGSA) said that the association had sent an official letter to the DeSuung head office requesting deployment of desuups at the archery ranges to ensure the threshold set by the government is maintained.

BIGSA official said that until the notification from the government, the association was not able to do anything.

Following the first nationwide lockdown in August last year, the government allowed sporting activities in a phase-wise manner.  All sporting events were permitted beginning March this year. However, new protocols developed by the Bhutan Olympic Committee in consultation with national sports federations and associations were put in place.   

According to officials, desuups and BIGSA officials monitor the number of crowds at the two Changlimithang archery ranges. However, the situation is different in most of the private archery ranges around the capital and other dzongkhags. There are no desuups regulating the crowd. 

An official from the DeSuung head office said that it was difficult to deploy desuups in all the archery ranges. 

The official said that the DeSuung office had deployed desuups to monitor the games following the request from BIGSA but was recently suspended given the manpower shortage. “While the office would revisit the issue, archers must be responsible and follow the protocol.”  

In the meantime, archers are not happy with the restriction set by the government. 

An archer, Sangay, said that it was not fair for archery players when rest of the games and sports were going on as usual without any restriction. “As long as we follow all safety measures, there shouldn’t be any problem. In archery, two teams are playing the entire day, and risk of Covid transmission is comparatively lower compared to many other sports.”

He said that a game of football involved more physical contact than an archery match. “Twenty-two players are involved in a game for more than an hour. After every hour new teams arrive and in the process most of them get mixed, increasing the probability of transmission.” 

Another archer said that there was no uniformity in imposing the player restriction.  “Most of the archery ranges outside Thimphu are privately owned and there are no protocols followed there.”

Edited by Tshering Palden