What it means to operate in a 'bubble' at the Magical Kenya Open
Golfers relaxing and eating lunch in the bubble during the Magical Kenya Open Tournament at the Karen County Club on March 18, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

The Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the world has forced humanity to live in interesting times.

Sports too has changed significantly with no fans allowed into the stadia.

The changes have come much closer home with tough Covid protocols being observed at the ongoing Magical Kenya Open at Karen.

The tournament has been forced to operate in a bubble meaning the players, officials, caddies and the media aren’t allowed to have contact with the outside world.

The players and the parties involved were subjected to numerous covid-19 pre-tests before they were allowed into Karen and into their hotel rooms.

“The players have to take the tests daily after every event. We also do tests at random.

“We are following guidelines laid down by the Ministry of Sports and the Health Ministry,” Tournament Director Patrick Obath stated.

One of the casualty to the stringent covid measures was Muthaiga golfer Mutahi Kibugu who was forced to opt out of the tournament after his caddy tested positive to the novel corona virus.

His place was taken by Nyali junior golfer Adel Balala who likened up with the Kenyan team on Thursday morning.

What it means to operate in a 'bubble' at the Magical Kenya Open
Golfers entering the bubble during the Magical Kenya Open Tournament at the Karen County Club on March 18, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

At Karen, small tables fitted with two chairs on either side and a parasol to block rains and the overhead scorching sun have been placed two meters apart on the lawn in front of the club house which the players are using as their dining area.

“We have done away with most of the event traditions including the boisterous games village where lots of merry making used to happen,”Obath said.

All parties involved in the tournaments are staying in designated hotels.

The organisers have also secured an exclusive transport system to and from the venue and the hotels.

“We are not allowed to get out until the two tournaments (including Savannah Classic) are over,” Golf Park player Jacob Okello said.

The bubble has affected golf enthusiasts and fans alike who have been denied entry into the venue.

But the spectators can follow the action live from the 24 mini centres set up by the Kenya Breweries Limited at the golf courses spread across the country.

Experts warns that operating in a bubble can have adverse effects on players.

According to The Wichita Eagle which is a distinguished publication in the US, sports bubble brings boredom and the desire to lose matches so as to get out of the ‘sporting prison.

QUOTE

“It really takes talent and a strong mental strength to win tournament in a bubble,” The Wichita Eagle.

UTILITIES

What to expect in a sporting bubble

– No visits by friends and family

-Teams, caddies, officials and media are placed in secluded places

-Daily covid tests

-Random covid tests

-Pre covid tests

-Meals eaten in disposable plastic containers

-No movement out of the games venue and hotel

-Tight security measures

-Social distance maintained

-Frequent handwashing

-Putting masks at all times

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