Although we will live together in the ‘bubble system’ for quite a long time, we will not be bored since there are a lot of facilities that we can use.
Nusa Dua, Bali (ANTARA) - Competitions in badminton, one of the sports loved by many Indonesian people, have returned to the nation after a gap of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 Indonesia Badminton Festival (IBF), which will take place from November 16, 2021 to December 5, is claimed to be the biggest badminton event that Indonesia has ever held to date with three international tournaments scheduled in a row.

They comprise the Indonesia Masters (Super 750) from November 16-21, the Indonesia Open (Super 1000) from November 23-28, and the season-ending tournament Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour Finals from December 1-5.

At least 256 athletes from 26 countries, including Indonesia, will participate in the events, general chairman of the Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI), Agung Firman Sampurna, said in Nusa Dua, Bali.

Related news: President Jokowi watches badminton finals before closing XVI Peparnas

He guaranteed that the implementation of the 2021 IBF will be festive and majestic, but still in accordance with the health protocols, saying it will be carried out in a ‘bubble system’ supervised by 930 security and health personnel.

A 'bubble' is a tight and controlled area that is used in a large event to prevent transmission of COVID-19 between participants and outsiders, he explained.

The bubble system is being used in large-scale sports events amid the pandemic, he noted.

While implementing strict health protocols, PBSI is ensuring that participants are not stressed or bored, he said. The committee has provided entertainment and supporting facilities for everyone in the ‘bubble area’, he elaborated.

Related news: IBF bubble can be blueprint for international competitions: task force

Head of public relations of PBSI, Broto Happy, compared the ‘bubble system’ at the IBF with the one implemented in a previous tournament in Europe, which he described as quite uncomfortable.

While accompanying the national badminton team for the Sudirman and Thomas Cups in September this year, he recalled that he found the protocols in the ‘bubble area’ were not too strict as the athletes were still allowed to leave their rooms to buy meals.

"However, the atmosphere was boring and it affected the players’ mentality,” he noted.

He admitted that the situation was very different from the 2021 IBF in Bali where everyone felt comfortable and happy although the event also carried out a strict ‘bubble system’.

COVID-19 measures

Under the IBF 2021 bubble system, before the first tournament, all participants and supporting parties need to undergo five-day isolation at their lodging, Happy said.

The participants and their families are being accommodated at the Westin Resort Nusa Dua, which comprises the inn complex, and the Bali International Convention Center (BICC), which has been designated as the competition arena, he informed.

Meanwhile, the supporting personnel, security members, and media crew are staying at the Ibis Hotel, which is located about one kilometer (km) from the resort, he said.

Related news: Some 930 personnel secure Indonesia Badminton Festival bubble scheme

Like the Westin Resort, the hotel is also implementing a strict ‘bubble system’ under which residents are not allowed to leave the premises, he added.

The organizing committee has deployed a sterile transportation fleet with all drivers and coordinators also staying in the ‘bubble area’ without any interaction with outsiders, Happy said.

The committee is providing basic necessities and entertainment facilities for all participants to prevent boredom and fatigue amid the isolation, he added.

The resort offers various refreshing sites and activities, such as a mini-cinema, swimming pools, a fitness center, craft activities, and a recreational beach area, he informed.

The facilities show that the committee is not only demanding that the participants keep complying with the health protocols, but also ensuring that everyone feels comfortable, he remarked.

In addition, the committee has also allowed athletes to bring their families as long as they stay in the ‘bubble’ from the beginning until the end of the tournaments, he added.

Related news: After two-year gap, PBSI announces three badminton tournaments

Entertainment facilities

Many athletes have come to Bali with their families to spend time together after being separated for months during previous tournaments held in countries across Europe, like Hendra Setiawan who has brought his wife and three children.

The men's doubles specialist lauded the committee for considering the mental condition of the players by providing various entertainments and allowing them to bring their families.

"Although we will live together in the ‘bubble system’ for quite a long time, we will not be bored since there are a lot of facilities that we can use," the 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medallist said.

Foreign athletes, such as Viktor Axelsen from Denmark and Yuta Watanabe from Japan, who are visiting Bali for the first time, have also taken advantage of the opportunity to vacation with their families.

Axelsen, who won the men’s singles gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, has come with his daughter and spouse.

Related news: Sports Minister optimistic Peparnas will revive badminton athletes

Witnessed by Antara at the resort, he often spends his free time playing or swimming with his daughter.

"Vega (Axelsen’s daughter) really likes swimming and playing in the water. However, I do not want to swim too often as I do not bring a lot of pants, thus I have to keep them from being wet," he told Antara at the poolside.

Unlike other players, Watanabe has come to Bali with his parents.

The 24-year-old athlete said that his parents were among the sponsors of the 2021 IBF and therefore, they were invited to watch the tournaments.

In fact, he said he only found out about this shortly before he left for Bali, so he had no time to plan a vacation with his family.

Although he said he has not been able to visit tourist destinations in Bali which he has always dreamed of, he is grateful that his parents are enjoying staying in the ‘bubble’. He further said he is eager to visit the region again in the future.

“Actually, I really want to come to Bali, but not to compete. In fact, I want to be able to have a vacation here. Next time, I want to come back here for a tour," the mixed doubles player remarked.

With millions of eyes on the 2021 IBF, it is hoped the event will be able to promote Bali tourism and showcase Indonesia’s strict but warm hospitality amid the pandemic.

Thus, it is expected to revive the tourism sector and boost the recovery of the people’s economy with adherence to the health protocols given the fact that the province reopened international flights on October 14, 2021.

Related news: Gov't still studying Vaccinated Travel Lanes program: minister

Related news: Gov't prioritizing elderly over children for COVID-19 vaccination

Translator: Roy Bachtiar, Uyu Liman
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2021