Iran to Allow Individual Sports to Resume As Lockdown Eases, Official Says

By Reza Hamidi

Some 29 individual sports are to restart in Iran as the country eases the COVID-19 lockdown measures, the Deputy Minister of Health and Medical Sciences Iraj Harirchi has said.

Mr. Harirchi made the comments in a telephone interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

“Following a discussion with the Ministry of Sport and Youth and after receiving the go-ahead from the National Headquarters for Fighting Coronavirus, we plan to restart 29 individual sports in the country, including weightlifting, shooting, table tennis, tennis and track, and field,” Harirchi said. “We have decided on all other sports except for the Premier League and League One football matches.”

“We hope to complete those plans in the next few days,” Harirchi explained. “We expect all football teams to train for three weeks. The Premier League clubs should complete all their matches in 45 days, after which teams selected to compete in the Asian Championship League (ACL) can start training. Also, the Iran national football team can begin training for the [2020 FIFA] World Cup qualifying matches.”

In a live interview with the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) TV a day earlier, Mehrzad Khalilian, the spokesman for the Headquarters for Fighting Coronavirus in Sports, said: “Some individual sports will restart in cities designated as ‘clear’ zones for the coronavirus infection.”

“We will also have some excellent news about football by May 16. We did not make a hasty decision given the current restrictions,” Mr. Khalilian added. “We have also held some discussions about reopening gyms, but have not reached a consensus yet. We hope to reopen the fitness and body-building centers soon.”

In comments reported by the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) on May 14, the Minister of Health and Medical Sciences, Dr. Saeed Namaki, said that his office would send an additional set of protocols on restarting sports to the Ministry of Sport and Youth.

Mr. Namaki explained that the new measures would allow individual sports to resume in cities that are designated “clear” (green zone), “low-risk,” “some-risk,” and even “high-risk” (red zone) for coronavirus infection. Dr. Namaki added that the ministry would also provide a guideline on training regime for the football leagues.

This article was translated and adapted from Persian by Fardine Hamidi.