In preparation for the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) hosted a comprehensive safe sports awareness program on September 12. The event, held at the capital city’s heart, aimed to equip Bhutan’s athletes and officials with the knowledge and tools necessary to ensure a secure sporting environment. The Asian Games are scheduled to take place from September 23 to October 8.
Bhutan introduced its safe sports policy just last year, emphasizing the significance of safety, both physical and mental, within the realm of sports. Umang Deep Rai, the program’s focal figure, stated, “If our athletes endure any form of physical or mental abuse, their ability to perform well in competitions and in life itself is compromised.”
Abuse can manifest in various forms, ranging from non-accidental violence and verbal abuse to bullying, neglect, sexual harassment, and intimidation. Rai underscored the importance of athletes promptly reporting any instances of abuse to the relevant authorities, emphasizing that their fellow athletes and friends can also play a crucial role in aiding them.
In order to maintain a perpetually safe sporting environment, Rai stressed that athletes must be well-versed in the athletes’ code of conduct, maintain open communication, foster a conducive atmosphere, and guard against false accusations. To date, there have been no reported cases of abuse in Bhutanese sports.
One participant expressed confidence in Bhutan’s robust safe sports policy, asserting that the likelihood of abuse was minimal, thanks to the measures in place.
In addition to discussions on abuse prevention, participants were briefed on various other critical aspects of sports preparation, including anti-doping measures, dietary requirements, and the importance of protective gear. Given the time zone difference of two hours between Bhutan and China, coaches were advised to develop separate training schedules to help athletes acclimate effectively to the new environment and time zone while reaching the competition venue.
As Bhutan’s dedicated athletes and officials gear up to represent their nation on the international stage, they are not only vying for medals but also setting a shining example of commitment to safe and ethical sportsmanship. With the safe sports policy firmly in place, they aim to make their country proud while ensuring the well-being of all involved in the realm of sports.