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Can’t say when crowds will return to stadia: Kiren Rijiju

Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday said he cannot give a time-frame for when the crowds will return to stadiums after the government permitted sports gatherings of up to 100 people from September 21 in its Unlock 4 guidelines.

Speaking at the virtual launch of ‘enJogo’ App designed by Bhaichung Bhutia Football School to provide online training modules to footballers, Rijiju said the COVID-19 pandemic situation has made it difficult to say when the crowds will return to the stadia. India has recorded over 39 lakh cases so far.

“I will not be able to make a call on that (on return of crowd). I don’t know what will be the situation (of the pandemic) in next 1 or 2 months,” he said.

“I wish they (fans) are there in the stadia as soon as possible, we are hopeful of that happening. But health and safety of the public is also our priority,” he added.

The Union Home Ministry, on August 29, allowed sports gatherings of up to 100 people with effect from September 21, lifting the the total ban, which was earlier put in place till August 31.

However, such limited gatherings can only be held with the mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer, the guidelines said.

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