Resume non-contact sports like cricket and badminton behind closed doors, in few locations and with limited manpower, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry suggested on Wednesday, as the Indian sports sector looks to get the wheels back in motion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The novel coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 2400 people and infected over 70,000 in the country, has disrupted the sports calender and also impacted other industries such as event management, food & beverages, hotels and tourism.
The unprecedented health crisis forced an indefinite shutdown of all sports activities -- both contact and non-contact.
The FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry) said non-contact sports can resume first by maintaining social distancing norms.
"Resumption of non-contact live sporting events like cricket, tennis, badminton, table-tennis etc. with athletes and staff practicing social distancing guidelines specified by government and WHO," it said in a release.
"These events should be restricted to a very few locations with lower manpower and may be played in sanitised empty stadia, thereby minimising travel, and minimising congregation of fans."
On resumption of outdoor training for India's top athletes, the FICCI said, "Only necessary on-ground training for elite athletes in limited number of SAI centres should begin on staggered basis, while following the guidelines of social distancing and provision of regular corona testing for athletes."
The FICCI also came out with other recommendations such as announcing compensation package for contractual staff, insuring future events and provision of contract extension.
"A compensation package for contractual staff who are rendered jobless during the inactivity period, especially for ground staff, in-stadia workers etc, whose source of livelihood has been adversely affected," it said.
"Insurance companies to insure future events and activities against COVID-19 and Force Majeure to be regarded in current situation, which may grant relief to a party from liability for failure to meet its obligations, due to a scenario beyond control, as the COVID-19 situation is somewhat unique."
The FICCI added that "effective planning for businesses will be critical and should involve the formation of a multi-disciplinary crisis management team" that should be prepared to address potential concerns and make recommendations.
It also recommended moratorium of payback on loans, slashing of GST rates and also suggested that defaulters in sports business should not be qualified as Non Performing Assets (NPAs).
"Moratorium of payback on loans and interest for a period of 9 to 12 months and clearance of all dues to companies who have executed orders for central or state government or PSUs," FICCI said.
"GST rates should be slashed, considering the road to recovery to be long and challenging, while GST and other tax refunds should be cleared at the earliest.
"It is evident that the sports sector will suffer during this period due to defaults in payment of interests, letter of credit, instalments etc, such defaults and loss suffered by the businesses should not result in these entities being qualified as NPAs."
It also recommended setting up of a fund to help sports startups.
"Setup a fund via sports accelerators to help startups in sports and fitness sector as they are greatly impacted, since sport sector is seen by venture capitalists and angel investors as most risky.
"A fund to be created (road map to be designed to capitalize the budget) to get the wheels of the sports tech industry moving as they do not have huge capital reserves like other sections of the industry."