Amid surging Covid-19 infections, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday allowed the ‘Jallikattu’ event – a traditional bull taming sport usually held during the festival of Pongal in January – across the state with restrictions on the number of spectators and mandatory vaccinations.
As part of the standard operating procedures (SOPS) issued during the day, the state government said only two persons – the owner of the bull and an assistant – will be allowed inside the arena with each bull.
Also, district administrations will provide ID cards to the two people and those without the cards will not be allowed inside the ring. Full vaccination and a negative RT PCR test not older than 48 hours have been mandated for the participants.
The full vaccination and the negative RT PCR certificate have been mandated for all players who participate in the sport. Players too, like the bull owners, will be provided with ID cards by respective district administrations. The districts have been directed to complete the process of issuing ID cards to owners and players three days before the event.
While 300 players are allowed to participate in ‘Jallikattu’ or bull taming, 150 players have been permitted to participate in the bull racing sport, called ‘Eruthu Viduthal’ in Tamil.
Also, officials who are overseeing the preparations, organisers of the sport and spectators would have to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and have a negative test report, the government said.
A limit on the maximum attendance has been imposed where either 50 per cent of the seating capacity of the open arena or a maximum of 150 viewers, whichever is lower, has been allowed.
People residing in cities and towns other than the venue of the sport have been advised to watch the event through television or online. The government said the events should be organised with prior permission from the state and in compliance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the pandemic-related guidelines.
The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has constantly raised objections against the sport citing animal cruelty, earlier in December last year, sent a petition written by 80 doctors across the country to chief minister MK Stalin, urging him to not allow the event this year, citing the prevailing Covid-19 situation.