I-League, Indian Super League (ISL), AFC Asian Women's Cup India 2022 and now the Pro Kabaddi League 2021-22. COVID-19 has spared no one and despite the effort of event managers to keep players, coaches and production staff in a water-tight and bio-secure environment, the virus has infiltrated the best of defences. (More Sports News)
This is turning out to be a contest between COVID versus sports. While the virus wrecked the dreams of India's women footballers after more than half the side was hit ahead of their AFC Asian Women's Cup against Chinese Taipei on Sunday, the kabaddi league has had to cancel matches, especially the double headers.
It is learnt that at least 10 members of the STAR Sports production team caught the virus at different times. Teams, organisers (Mashal Sports) and television production staff are staying in three different hotels in Bengaluru. One of the hotels, which has a large convention centre, has been turned into a venue for the matches.
The PKL schedule has been partially impacted since the broadcasters are struggling to provide enough personnel to cover live games. This is one of the factors affecting double-headers.
"It's a temporary phase and we should be back in full force soon assuming that there is no further outbreak," said an official in know of the situation in Bengaluru.
On Tuesday, two of the 12 PKL Teams have found it difficult to field the requisite number of 12 players for their respective matches due to some players in these teams testing positive for Covid-19.
It is learnt that some teams have also complained about the hectic schedule. A few senior players have been injured and the tight schedule leaves no time to recover, said a team official.
PKL insiders say many players are suffering from Omicron. The virus has not spared event managers who are living inside the bubble. But once COVID enters the bubble, everyone becomes vulnerable.
"Most of them have mild symptoms like a bad throat, but things are manageable. As long as things do not go out of hand, we will be able to manage and finish the tournament in time," said one of them.
"We have modulated the earlier match programme within the overall timeline of PKL 8. Most of the 12 PKL teams are on course with their strategy and gameplay for the second half of the league round matches. Two of the 12 PKL Teams will soon join in this stage of the competition after a gap of a few days," said a Mashal Sports spokesman.
The 2021-22 edition of PKL is scheduled to end on February 26.