Tomi Falase, the Chairman, Lagos State Squash Association (LSSA), on Friday cautioned squash players that playing the game was still unsafe, even though the Federal Government had eased COVID-19 lockdown.
Falase in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos said that to help everyone to continue to stay active, the warning had become imperative.
He noted that sports like squash, basketball and other indoor games were considered as high risk sports.
Squash is a racket and ball sport played by two (singles) or four players (doubles squash) in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball.
The players alternate in striking the ball with their racquets onto the playable surfaces of the four walls of the court.
He explained that players always sweat on the squash court because it was physically challenging, fast and with the enclosed environment within which the game took place, players would inevitably sweat heavily over the course of a match.
Falase explained that due to regular close physical contact between players on the court, the infection could spread readily if any of the players was infected.
He said mostly in squash where two or four athletes were in close contact, if any of them was infected and coughed, the droplet had high chances to be inhaled by other athletes, facilitating viral transmission.
“To emphasise that strenuous exercise induces a much more frequent spitting of secretions and this can further contribute to the COVID-19 spread, particularly if the distancing recommendations are not strictly followed,’’ he explained.
Falase, however, urged caution amid concerns of fresh clusters of cases, saying that precautionary measures must be adhered to strictly to avoid the spread of the virus.
He also noted that easing the restrictions by government did not indicate that the virus no longer existed.
He said because the sports was regarded as higher risk of spreading the virus either within the players or to the general public, emphasis should be on the need for players to focus on maintaining their fitness and practice at home.
Falase urged the players to adhere to safety measures including use of face masks, social distancing and washing of hands.
“The main factors taken into account were the amount of contact between players, the distance between them and the protective measures likely to be put in place to mitigate risks both for training and competitive play.
“Squash is played in a confined space, where close contact is unavoidable; which means players cannot be 2 metres (6ft) apart very often during a game.
“We are looking into possible protective measures for players on court to mitigate the risk of inhaling contaminated droplets and avoiding face touching, which would lower the risk of transmission of the virus,’’ he said.
Falase gave an assurance that the sport would definitely resume but it would take a while because COVID-19 had not gone away. (NAN)