The Indian Premier League team owners are ensuring the best possible facilities to their squads for the Indian Premier League in the UAE. But there is one aspect of the strong COVID-19 protocol that might drain out the players emotionally and psychologically.
Yes. It is mandatory for all to maintain a two-metre distance when the teams are in their hotels. The rule will not just stay in force during the customary quarantine period, but for the entire duration of the tournament.
Players and the staff are reportedly being monitored through blue tooth bands, which they are supposed to wear at all times. Visits to others’ rooms are prohibited. They can only meet each other at the doors of their rooms but in no way enter others’ rooms. Or they can interact in the designated meeting areas with strictly maintaining the two-metre distance.
The thought of spending nearly three months in such a confined atmosphere is scary. Players, who mostly stay away from their families for long during tours, are not used to such practice.
The concern reportedly was raised during the webinar with the IPL officials in the UAE on Monday last.
According to national daily Indian Express, there have been questions like “What if I need a haircut? Why can’t I go to another player’s room if we maintain social distancing there? During photoshoots, can we hug and give high-fives? What is the protocol for the make-up person? Will the team barber be in a PPE kit? Can we avoid nose-swab testing and opt for saliva testing to detect COVID? Will I have to wear the Bluetooth wrist band all the time?”
The psychological or clinical effect of these strict protocols on the players will vary from person to person, says senior clinical psychiatrist Dr KP Rana.
“If the person is not at ease with isolation, he will find it difficult. It can affect their psychological well-being. But some others who love to be in their own zone will be more comfortable. However, the time spent together for the matches, during meetings and practice will help them ease the pressure,” says Dr Rana.
“Psychological impact of living in a confined environment for long cannot be fully ruled out. The teams must be aware of it and there must be remedial measures in place.”
Rajasthan Royals seamer Jaydev Unadkat has expressed concerns about staying all alone for such a long time. “I think that restriction about not going into each other’s rooms will be the most difficult part for us players. We have never faced it in the past,” Unadkat has told The Indian Express. “You need someone to talk to when you are away from home for such a long time. It’s easier to say than to actually do it but there is no choice.”
The players will also have to maintain a safe distance when travelling in the team bus. The request for access to the hotel lobby was reportedly also denied.
Those travelling with wives and girlfriends may still not be impacted much, but others will have to find ways to end this loneliness.
Yoga, meditation, music and reading will expectedly keep them charged up for their biggest professional duty.