Dubai: Encouraged by the zero incidence of coronavirus cases at any of the already-opened sport activities and coaching academies, Dubai showed an advanced state of readiness for the possible opening up of spectator-driven events in the emirate in the near future.
“We are not here to make any decisions, but we are here only to lay the protocol and ground rules for the future, should the proper authorities signal the start of all sport activities in Dubai,” Saeed Hareb, General Secretary, Dubai Sports Council (DSC), told participants at the special forum at Al Nasr Club organised in collaboration with Dubai Police on Wednesday.
Held under the slogan ‘Your Commitment to Happiness’, the forum titled ‘Return of Spectators to Sports Stadiums’ attracted a range of speakers from varied sports including football, basketball and golf to discuss precautionary measures and protocols for the safe return of spectators to the events when competitions resume following weeks of stoppage due to the pandemic.
“We have opened up the sport academies all over Dubai with significant inputs from Michel Salgado [former Real Madrid legend who runs his own academy in Dubai] who showed us the way on how to operate during these tough times. At the moment, the question here is not just about the players, but about the families, the spectators and all others who may be at risk while just attending a football match,” Hareb noted.
“We need to be in a state of readiness. We need to be thankful to Dubai Police for creating such a wonderful and safe environment for everyone. And should the orders come for spectators to be present at matches, then we will need to follow the percentage principle suggested by the police,” he added.
Major General Abdullah Al Ghaithi, Director of the General Authority for Security of Bodies, Installations and Emergencies in Dubai Police, disclosed that the special police team created has already visited all clubs within Dubai for preparing their report on a possible re-start. “Over a period of years, Dubai Police has been the benchmark internationally for arrangements at sporting events. Basically, we’ve stuck to the same protocol that has been designed and used at the opening of clubs and academies some two weeks ago,” Al Ghaithi said.
“And since there has been no positive COVID-19 case reported from any of these clubs since that date of re-opening [May 27], we are further encouraged to look positively to the future,” he added.
Gergo Szabo, Press Officer from the Hungarian Football Federation, spoke about a hands-on case following the recent opening of the Nemzeti Bajnoksag - officially known as the OTP Bank Liga - [the Hungarian Football League].
The season re-started with the MTK vs Honved and Mezokovesd-Zsory vs Fenervar Magyar Cup first leg semi-finals on May 23. Last Wednesday, the Magyar Cup final was held before which the 26th round of league matches was played on May 30. The federation has targeted to complete the season before the end of June.
“We had three weeks and that was enough time for the teams to re-start training, get back into shape so that the incidence of injuries would be minimal,” Szabo told attendees via teleconference.
Ahmed Salem Al Muhairi, who was at the helm of putting together the DSC protocol for re-opening of sports, explained that Dubai would always remain in a state of readiness while following all protocol handed down by the federal authority and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Former Spanish international and Real Madrid star Michel Salgado, who runs his own Spanish Soccer Schools academy at the Dubai Sports City, was proud of what they have achieved.
“In local football, we really worked hard to get into normalcy while giving the kids a chance to get back into playing. Now we need the confidence to get back further into the normal game as more and more kids return to football,” Salgado observed.
“Sport is part of our education. It is part of our life. It is competition and entertainment at the same time and we need to have our fans back as well. Sport is our health and we can’t live without our sport. That’s why we have to all work together as one team to get our sport back,” he added.