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How Nepal is preparing for its first int’l tournament under ‘Bio Bubble’ ?

Nepal has begun preparations for its first international tournament under what has been globally termed Bio Bubble during the times of pandemic.

The new entrants of the One Day International club are hosting the Netherlands and Malaysia for a Tri-Nation Twenty20 International Series beginning from April 17 at the Tribhuvan University Stadium in Kirtipur — the outskirts of Kathmandu.

With the second strain of COVID-19 virus gradually digging in across South Asia and largely affecting India where even over 150,000 cases a day haven’t stopped the regional giants from hosting the Indian Premier League, albeit behind closed doors, Nepal embark on a tedious ask to host a Series in presence of spectators.

The Netherlands team pose at the Soaltee Hotel in Kathmandu. PHOTO: Kaushal Adhikari

Teams from Netherlands and Malaysia landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport at a different time frame before both teams were routed to Soaltee Hotel where all three teams are stationed under strict health protocol.

Since international sports resumed from May 16 with Germany’s top division league Bundesliga, Bio Bubble has become the two key words in global sports, the words that are now taking toll on international cricketers.

Although Nepal government has directed to refrain from public gathering not exceeding 25 people, the country has the bars open on the eve of Nepali New Year, sports events held under big crowds and hourly traffic jam suggesting its just another day in the Himalayan nation, while other countries are struggling to cope with the second strain.

All the participating teams will have a dedicated floor and the players have been barred for contact with outsiders.

“We have asked the hotel staffs to at least provide the cricketers with dedicated elevators or not let other guests use them when the players are using it,” informed Cricket Association of Nepal (CAN) Cricket Manager Binod Das.

The teams have been barred from going outside with three-time meals provided within the hotel, a general practice that has become the new normal during the times of pandemic which is now into its second year.

The Malaysian players headed straight towards the team hotel from TIA.

Nepal, as a nation, has ordered mandatory quarantine for visitors but since the Tri-Nation has been hastily managed, considering the second strain was not on its loose, the government has shown leniency on this matter.

A 72-hour PCR report was enough for the visiting players to check into their hotel rooms after landing at the airport.

Players from Netherlands and Malaysia have their swabs collected for their first PCR test in Nepal on Tuesday, while the samples of local players will be taken on Wednesday morning. All the cricketers will only enter the ground after they are tested negative.

Nepal now only waits to host the tournament in presence of a vibrant crowd usually expected during international matches. “Until the government comes up with a concrete directive, the Tri-Nation Series will go ahead in presence of crowd,” Das, the former national team skipper and U-19 and women’s team coach told cricketingnepal.com.

But irrespective of how government responds to the second strain, Nepal has now begun their cricket under the new normal.

Since the dynamics of Nepali cricket have crowd as the major prerogative for revenue generation, the Tri-Nation Series is certain to provide a hint of how the country can handle the pandemic situation, financially, and get the game go on with proper damage control.

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