Over the course of the past 4 months, I have participated in 6 tennis tournaments in Bolivia. All of these tournaments took place in either: La Paz, Santa Cruz, or Cochabamba. Since I have been in these cities and stayed at least a week to compete there, I have a pretty good sense of Covid restrictions in each place and how conscious the people are.
The tournaments came back in early December of 2020, with three consecutive tournaments. The first week I played in Santa Cruz, this tournament was weird, because I knew no one took Covid seriously over there. At the airports, people wear masks all the time, and that’s pretty much the only restriction there is; people can be seated next to each other in the airplane and there is no social distancing. Once I arrived at the tennis club, they sprayed alcohol on you and the entrance to disinfect you, but once you passed the entrance, it was like going back to 2019. I’d say that only 40% of the people in the club wore masks. And forget social distancing, once you see your friends after many months, you just go and give them a hug. When my friends and I would go to eat somewhere, some of them didn’t even wear masks inside the taxi, I noticed that the people that did this were either of Santa Cruz or Beni.
The following week we (by we I mean myself and the rest of the people that played the tournament) traveled to Cochabamba. The airport restrictions were pretty much the same. When we arrived at the club, the first thing I noticed was that entering wasn’t as easy. To start, the guards had a list of the players, and once you lost, your name would be crossed off the list and wouldn’t be allowed to enter the club anymore. Also, you could only arrive 1 hour before your match, If you arrived and earlier, you would be denied entry to the club and you could only stay 1 hour after you finished your match. There were also people reminding you to wear your masks at all times.
After Cochambamba we travelled to La Paz. Now, this was harsh. The club was divided into two sections, one for the members of the club, and the other one was a sort of bubble for the players. It was really compact and it did not feel welcoming, to be honest. There were guards everywhere controlling the players to: wear their masks, practice social distancing, and especially not go to the other part of the club. What I didn’t like about this was that if you were playing the tournament, but also a member of the club, the guards wouldn’t let you go to the other side of the club, which was pretty annoying. Players were also given cards that were scanned when entering the club, once you lost your matches the card would deactivate and you weren’t allowed access to the club.
This was my experience traveling to tournaments during a pandemic, I think it is important to note that these were international tournaments, meaning that people from other continents would come to play and therefore there were more restrictions than in national tournaments which I’ve also played.