New Normal For Sporting Events
IT is indeed a prudent decision to have the Gujarat Cricket Association, in the wake of sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases in Ahmedabad, organise the remaining T20 international matches between India and England at the Narendra Modi Stadium behind closed doors without audience. It is however surprising to note that when initially packing stadiums in the cricket mad nation was a non-starter due to the country’s failure to stem the coronavirus surge and entailed shifting the venue to the Middle East destination, then what has a brought about a sudden change in the pandemic perceptions to have the stadium bursting at the seams with spectators during the first two T-20 Internationals with the visiting English cricket team in Ahmedabad! With the love for the game crossing hysterical levels, cricket has come to symbolise an obsession for the nation. Even when the COVID pandemic took a big toll on sports, from cancellation of Wimbledon to the postponement of Tokyo Olympics, cricket’s marquee event, the Indian Premium League, in its 13th edition, was shifted to the United Arab Emirates so as not to disappoint fans. When a nation thinks of ‘alternatives’ to satiate the cricketing fixations of its citizens, it gives one an inkling of the craze the game generates in the country. The Hero Indian Super League 2020-21 season which concluded in Margao on Saturday was however a study in sharp contrast! As a sporting event that kick-started on November 20 last year and involved 11 teams competing for the coveted title, the organisers put in place stringent health and safety protocols to conduct the major live sports event in the country amid the pandemic. With fans marking ‘virtual attendance’ for its entire duration, the tournament held behind closed doors in Goa has however scripted a success story of its own. In fact BCCI president and ATK Mohun Bagan co-owner Sourav Ganguly has commented that the uninterrupted conduct of the seventh season of the ISL is a new benchmark for the Indian sports industry. Yet, while the ISL organisers are to be commended for their judiciousness for hosting the tournament in strict adherence to safety protocols during the pandemic, the BCCI needs to be chided for their thoughtlessness!
PACHU MENON, MARGAO
Elephants Under Threat
ELEPHANT was accorded the ‘national heritage animal’ status in 2010. Many projects are in place in India to save the magnificent creatures from extinction. The number of elephants in the country, as per the 2017 data, stands at 29,964. But these numbers do not reflect the stark reality: between 2014 and 2019 as many as 23,000 elephants were killed in India. The Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary in Kalahandi district of Odisha was gripped by a mysterious disease, which was later termed as ‘haemorrhagic septicemia’, resulting in the death of seven female elephants over two weeks. The authorities of the sanctuary, which houses as many as 22 elephants, woke up from their slumber to go into a damage-control mode by disinfecting water and soil that were contaminated by the faeces of the cattle from the nearby Tentulipada village. In January, 40 buffaloes had died in another sanctuary due to haemorrhagic septicemia. Therefore, the forest department should have kept track of the situation in other sanctuaries. More so, the health of delicate animals like the elephants and cattle entails a constant vigil. The state forest department is learnt to have directed the Karlapat sanctuary authorities to expeditiously immunise the cattle in the tiny hamlets within the sanctuary. Steps have to be initiated to keep the big animals safe in their homes.
GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA