Thinley Namgay 

The Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) has not yet finalised which sports to be played in the unlocking phase.

BOC’s head of sports research and development division, Namgay Wangchuk said that the committee had formed a team to work on the unlocking phase sports in line with the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on easing the lockdown.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that BOC would determine what sports are permissible during the phases. “Only non-contact sports such as badminton and tennis are allowed. However, some sports like swimming, archery and snooker that involve exposure and close contact are disallowed during the unlocking phase.”

The team is still working on it by categorising the sports into non-contact, partial contact and full contact. The team had submitted the draft proposal yesterday to all the sports federations and associations to seek advice.

As per the draft proposal, non-contact sports such as Olympic archery, shooting, athletics and golf will be played in the first phase mainly to train the national team.

“We have stressed on the strict precautionary measures besides sanitisers, facemasks and hand-washing stations,” said Namgay Wangchuk.  For example, if there are 10 national players for Olympic archery with five targets on the pitch, only five players are allowed to play at a time by maintaining physical distance.

Before submitting the final proposal to the government, the proposal will be further discussed by the BOC management to make necessary changes.

“Our team is expecting to complete the work on September 7 or 8. If this plan becomes successful here, the same rule could apply to the dzongkhags.”

“Regarding other sports, it will depend on the updates from the government and the World Health Organisation,” said Namgay Wangchuk.

BOC is also coming up with a standard operating procedure for all the 15 sports federations, four sports associations and 15 dzongkhag sports associations to follow in such unprecedented times.

“Tournament of any kind is disallowed during the unlocking phase,” Prime Minister said.

This would further delay the ongoing BOB Bhutan Premier League which has played only six matches as of August 10. Ugyen Academy FC was leading the table with four points.

Moreover, Bhutan Indigenous Games and Sports Association’s final match of the Mewang Gyalsey Traditional Archery Tournament between team Duktip from Trashiyangtse and Team Orong gewog from Samdrupjongkhar is still deferred. It was slated for March 7 and 8.