Despite many other activities having been cancelled or postponed this year, the annual International Dragon Boat Competition is still running to schedule, the Sports Bureau (ID) announced on Tuesday at a dedicated press conference.
The majority of the event’s details will remain unchanged, as announced by Pun Weng Kun, director of the ID, at the press conference, however foreign teams will not be invited to participate because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although this year’s event will not be as international as previous years, Pun has decided to retain the name of the event.
In previous years, the first two days of the event have focused on local teams with only local races. The third day of the event – always on the day of Tun Ng Festival (Dragon Boat Festival) – has featured foreign and mainland China teams, making the races much more competitive.
It may not be possible for some teams to travel to Macau for this year’s competition, given the current global situation and travel restrictions.
As a result, the duration of this year’s event will be reduced to two days. Races will be staged on Saturday, June 21, and Thursday, June 25, which is a public holiday for the Tun Ng Festival.
However, the ID has also decided to maintain the atmosphere of the event by adding one extra day to the calendar. June 20 will see no races, but will feature a carnival targeted at educating children about the festival.
Athletes usually wait on the side of the Nam Van Lake Nautical Centre, near the Legislative Assembly building, before and after matches. Asked about the risks of athletes waiting at the waiting area, Pun introduced the measures the ID will impose on all those participating in the event, including spectators.
Crowd management measures will be implemented in all areas of the Nautical Centre. Body temperature will be taken for all people entering the venue, on top of the presentation of the Macau Health Color Code.
According to Health Bureau requirements, only green and yellow codes will be accepted.
With that said, “all athletes will be required to wear masks while in the waiting area,” Pun explained. “They are only allowed to take off their masks when they proceed to their matches.”
On the other hand, extra restrictions will be put into place to further ensure safety. The Times has previously received comments about the waiting area being too crowded. Although fans have been installed, ventilation has still been insufficient. During this special time, “more fans will be installed in the waiting area this year,” the director said.
In addition, Pun expects this year will see around 1,000 fewer athletes than in previous years, as the organiser has decided to reduce the number of teams participating in each group.
In previous years, an entity could register more than one team to compete in the event. As this year sees a lower cap on the number of teams, the question arose as to whether the ID would also cap the number of teams registered under a single entity.
“We haven’t thought about that,” Pun answered. “It may be unfair to the casinos as they have so many employees.” He added that interested entities should act fast to register, as quotas are strictly limited.