By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Sept 6: The highly anticipated Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup (GCMGC) 2021 will be held next month from Oct. 1 to 12 at Clement Town in Dehradun with strict Covid-19 protocol, the apex Tibetan sports body said Saturday. The biggest sporting event in the exile community was to be held last year in May but was postponed twice as the pandemic in India deteriorated.
“We had initially planned for 16 teams as groups of four would battle out for the quarter-finals, but only 10 teams would be participating next month, where two groups of 5 teams each would compete for the final cup,” Tibetan National Sports Association representative Gompo Dorjee told Phayul.
The Covid-19 protocol is one of the top priorities of the organizing committee as the announcement revealed that all concerned teams would require a negative RT-PCR test result and mandatory first dose vaccine for players and managers alike. “We’ll also be taking rapid tests at their arrival for extra caution. Undertaking Covid protocol is a must, whether it is sanitizing the school ground or the sitting areas. There won’t be any negligence in the safety of all parties concerned,” Gompo deliberated on the arrangements.
Tsering Dhondup, Chairman of Dhondupling Local Assembly also weighed in on the protocols to safeguard the settlement and spectators from contracting the coronavirus, and to ensure a satisfactory outcome for the tournament. “We are most certainly going to be strict this time. The audience coming from outside would need RT-PCR test results taken within 72 hours, and needless to say, masks and sanitization would be necessitated throughout the tournament. This is an unprecedented time. We need to ensure a safe environment and prioritize the health of the community,” Tsering spoke to Phayul about GCM preparations.
This tournament would mark the 26th GCMGC, which was to be held on May 3 last year, but was indefinitely postponed. The well-known tournament among the Tibetan diaspora was first held in memory of the late mother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1981. Various bodies had taken charge of the tournament till TNSA officially took over and have been organizing the cup annually since 2003. DYSA Mundgod team won the last GCM title against DFC Clement Town at Dharamshala’s TCV ground in 2019.
Despite earnest preparations by the organisers, it is uncertain how many Tibetans will come out to watch the tournament as fear of the third-wave looms. The teams from Europe and North America are not going to participate this time, since the international tourist visas have not been granted due to the pandemic. Sources have confirmed that organisers will live telecasts of the matches but details around the mechanism for the telecast is still underway.