Inside the bubble at Sudirman Cup – An exclusive with Dr. Sudeep Satpathy

Dr. Sudeep Satpathy at the ongoing Sudirman Cup
Dr. Sudeep Satpathy at the ongoing Sudirman Cup

One of the biggest badminton tournaments around - Sudirman Cup - is being held in Finland from Sept 26 to Oct 3, 2021. Due to the strict COVID guidelines, sports tournaments, be it any grassroots competition or Olympics, have become impossible to conduct without sports doctors and medical teams. They have become an indispensable part of the sporting ecosystem.

Sportskeeda caught up with Dr. Sudeep Satpathy, who is the Tournament Doctor for the Sudirman Cup 2021, to understand the enormous amount of work that goes behind the scenes at any sports event during COVID-19.

Explaining his role at the Sudirman Cup, Dr. Satpathy says,

“I am the Tournament Doctor for this prestigious event. My daily activities include looking after the well-being of the athletes both on and off the court and also of the officials participating in this tournament. We work in tandem with the medical team of the Local Organizing Committee to oversee that all BWF medical regulations are met before and during the tournament.”

Dr. Satpathy has worked as Tournament Doctor at two BWF World Championships before (Nanjing 2018 and Basel 2019). His vast experience in the field of sports medicine makes him a perfect choice for any sporting body to have him on board as their doctor.

Dr. Sudeep Satpathy at BWF World Championship, Basel
Dr. Sudeep Satpathy at BWF World Championship, Basel

Everyone involved in the Sudirman Cup tests every 3rd - 4th day

When asked if conducting a tournament during COVID is a bit more difficult than normal times, he says,

“Due to Covid we have a separate protocol for Covid and we call it Covid Regulations. We have to make sure to enforce and see that all care is taken so that the games are delivered successfully and safely. We are already halfway through the tournament and have been successful in doing this. Everyone in the bio bubble takes a routine RT PCR every third day to ensure a Covid free environment for all.”

Success didn’t come easy for Dr. Satpathy. He had to wait for 10 long years to get what he deserved. When asked about his mantra of having such patience and perseverance all throughout, he says,

“During my dark phase, learning has been my mantra. I have tried to learn and gather as much knowledge as I could during tough times. You will have to wait till success comes to you.”

Dr. Satpathy has numerous degrees to his name. An MBBS gold medalist from VSS Medical College, Burla (Odisha), he has also completed his MD from SCB Medical College, Cuttack.

He also holds a degree in Sports & Exercise Medicine from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland with various Diplomas from International Association like FIFA, International Olympic Committee, etc. The doctor, who enjoys playing lawn tennis, was also the Sports Medicine Physician at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Dr. Sudeep Satpathy at BWF World Junior Championship
Dr. Sudeep Satpathy at BWF World Junior Championship

The sports medicine and sports science fields have recently gained a lot of momentum in India. But it’s not a very prominent field with doctors only being hired for Int’l teams, players and leagues. Not many state teams have doctors who take care of their players. But with the recent COVID-19 guidelines issued by different associations and federations, most of them have made a doctor compulsory in the squad.

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“Recently many medical colleges have started post-graduate courses in sports medicine. As the number of sporting events is increasing and there is a sports movement in India and we are becoming more professional, so the need will definitely increase," says the BWF certified doctor.
SAI also advertises sports medicine jobs for their NCOE and Regional Centers. Sports physicians not only look for athletes but anyone who does some form of physical activity. They are advocates of exercise as medicine and promote healthy living. We are moving from a disease market to a healthy market, so obviously, there will be much scope in the near future”, added Dr. Sudeep.

In spite of all the regulations and measures, we have seen positive cases occurring inside the bubble and halting the progress of a tournament. IPL 2021 comes to mind. Asked on how they manage players who test COVID positive, the Odisha-based doctor says,

“As per the protocol, the Covid positive participant will be isolated along with his close contact. If a need for re-testing arises it will also be done to ensure the safety of everyone. The LOC takes care of the Covid positive medical management of the cases if any.”

Dr. Satpathy wishes to build an advanced sports medicine center in his hometown, Bhubaneswar, so that he can help upcoming sports medicine aspirants and educate and treat athletes with the proper knowledge. The BWF Sudirman Cup is already underway and ends on Oct 3, 2021.

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Edited by S Chowdhury
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