Thinley Namgay 

The Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) conducted a safe sports awareness programme in Thimphu on September 12 for the athletes and officials who will represent the country at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, from September 23 to October 8.

Bhutan implemented the safe sports policy last year.  Safe sports awareness is crucial for athletes and officials to create a conducive sports environment and also to ensure physical and mental safety.

The focal person of the programme, Umang Deep Rai, said: “If our athletes suffer any form of physical or mental abuse, they cannot perform well in the competitions and also in their life,” he said.

According to Umang Deep Rai abuse can occur in various forms such as non-accidental violence, verbal abuse, bullying, neglect, sexual harassment, and intimidation.

He highlighted the importance of athletes informing the authorities concerned if they undergo any form of abuse. “If he or she can’t report it, her friends could help it.”

To ensure a safe sport for all time, he said that athletes must be well versed in athletes’ code of conduct, communicate well, promote a conducive environment, and prevent false accusations.

There have been no reported cases of abuse in sports in the country to date.

“We have a good safe sports policy in place, and the prospect of abuse can be negligible,” a participant said.

Participants were also briefed on anti-doping, diet, and protection gear, among others. As the time zone of China is two hours ahead of Bhutan, coaches are asked to frame separate timetables for training their athletes to acclimatise properly while reaching the venue.