Qatar witnesses successful implementation of the expanded bubble system for sports event
With the return of many sporting events all over the world amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, some events have had a more successful run when compared to others.
On the other hand, Qatar has been able to safely introduce various sporting events over time such as international football, international tennis, equestrian sports, golf, and much more.
According to Dr. Kamilla Swart, Associate Professor in the Masters in Sport and Entertainment Management program, College of Science and Engineering (CSE) at Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), Qatar has been able to set a new standard for the return of the hosting of major international sports events.
She pointed out Qatar was able to demonstrate this through collaboration with local and international football bodies and partnerships with relevant local authorities and government ministries.
Dr. Kamilla Swart, CSE, HBKU
With sport and non-sport events requiring approval from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the application of the bio-secure bubble system, it seems that these measures have been effective in safeguarding the hosting of international sports events.
“The system is intended to limit the extent of person-to-person contact by restricting access to the events’ site. It is contended that the success of the system is that it can identify an infected person quickly due to periodic checks, then removing the infected from the bubble and following-up on those who were in close contact,” said Dr. Swart.
“Qatar is one of the first countries that have implemented the expanded bubble system by including a large number of teams competitors for several sports events. The implementation of the bubble system has proved to be successful generally, however its attainment also depends on individuals’ willingness to adhere to the strict protocols,” she added.
Speaking about the mental health of players, she said that while the bio-secure bubble has permitted the return to international sport to an extent, there are natural concerns for players’ short- and long-term mental health.
“It is demanding and challenging and pre-COVID-19 traveling schedules for many international athletes would make it quite untenable,” said Dr. Swart.
“Consequently, for team sports, it may mean that a greater degree of flexibility will be required with teams drawing from a larger squad of available players whereas for individual sports, players may be more selective as to which tournaments they will play in. Bubble burnout is certainly an area that will require more research,” she added.
According to Dr. Swart, it is interesting to note that several Indian cricketers spent nearly 6 months in bio-secure bubble environments as they played in both the Indian Premier League 2020 which took place in the UAE, and the tour of Australia, where they also had to quarantine for 14 days.
“Several international cricket players have shared their stories about the emotional challenges associated with moving from bubble to bubble.” “The Women’s National Basketball Players Association acknowledged that playing in the bubble away from home comforts and the support of family and friends would be taxing and thus advocated for access to mental health resources as a priority before entering the bubble,” she stated.
“Furthermore, psychologists were made available on-site for players and staff as well as voluntary mental health check-in. Players also had access to other social activities such as beach days and golf. It is evident that greater concern for player’s mental health will be part of the new normal of sport in the biosecure bubble and a positive step forward in a post-COVID sporting world,” she added.
For more information on HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering, please visit their website.
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