How Safe Are ISB’s Covid-19 Athletes?
September 22, 2020
As a result of the dangerous pandemic (the one we know as Covid-19) sweeping the globe, people are required to wear masks and to practice social distancing. These measures were put in place by the Prime Minister in order to protect both ourselves and others from the virus. Many countries all over the world have participated in undergoing such measures on a daily basis. Yet, it seems that there are different rules at play for our own sports teams. We are letting our athletes play contact sports such as rugby and soccer without masks, yet are requiring everyone to wear masks and distance while in school.
Is there a way to honestly say that our athletes are safe while playing sports – especially full contact sports – while we are required to follow social distancing, mask-wearing, and other strict regulations during any other time?
Let’s start by looking at the exact restrictions that were put into play by ISB over the summer by both the Director Of Risk Management and Crisis Management Team. From the school’s Summer Communication and Reopening Plan, both of which can be found on ISB’s main webpage, we are given specific rules we need to follow in order to remain safe while on campus. While in school, we are required to wear masks at all times and get temperature scanned when we go into school each morning. We have to diligently hand wash and sanitize everything in each room. Additionally, we are to remain physically separated from each other by 1.5 meters or more.
Now, let’s compare this to how the sports teams are being run. While the practice drills run by some of our sports teams are socially distanced, many are concerned that the rest of the practices aren’t distanced and are therefore unsafe. When sports such as soccer are played, masks aren’t being worn and social distancing measures aren’t followed. Many may use the argument that sports teams can’t breathe as well during physical activity, but if that is the case, then why should everyone else be required to wear them during school hours? During school, we are rushing – sometimes even running – between classes and the environment is extremely hot, which is quite similar to sports activity.
An interview done with Mr. Jaspers, the head of the athletics department, can soon put any questions and concerns to rest. Or at least alleviate some of them. When asked about both the parameters and restrictions placed upon sports teams, he says “We are allowed to play against other teams now, as long as we meet all the requirements that are mandated by the Thai Government. Athletes are allowed to remove their mask during practice when they are physically active but need to maintain 2 – 4m physical distance during instructions. This is the same for all sports. Sports can be played without further restrictions” These are indeed, the same requirements everyone faces – whether or not you are on a sports team. Even when following the restrictions set in place, have we maximized the safety of our athletes? “We sanitize all shared equipment after each practice. One thing we all need help with is reminders when to physically distance and putting our masks back on after practice is over. This is unnatural behavior, so it will take some time for everyone to do it without even thinking about it.” When asked for his opinion, Mr. Jaspers makes a strong point about not only physical health but the importance of our teams’ mental wellbeing. “I think it’s really important for physical and mental wellbeing to practice sports during these difficult times. If everyone follows the guidelines, the risk of transmission is minimal and the benefits of playing sports outweigh the risks.”
By letting our athletes play while following the restrictions and measures in place, are we putting them at risk? Are we putting our spectators and families at risk? As can be gathered from the insight given by Mr. Jaspers, the conclusion drawn is that our athletes are indeed safe. While to the “outside” it might not seem so, there have been many parameters and restrictions that have been created and some later revised in order to keep both our athletes and the rest of the ISB community as secure as possible. While such concerns of safety aren’t unwarranted, especially during such a trying and difficult time, you can rest assured that both our athletes and coaches are being very cautious and, as a result, are very safe.