Sun | Aug 9, 2020

Athletics season nearing resumption

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2020 | 12:17 AMAkino Ming - Staff Reporter

O’Dayne Richards competes in the shot put event at the JAAA National Senior Championships at the National Stadium on June 23, 2017.
O’Dayne Richards competes in the shot put event at the JAAA National Senior Championships at the National Stadium on June 23, 2017.

The local athletics season could resume in two weeks, as the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) is in the final stages of developing plans to restart the sport after it has been halted for months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

President of JAAA, Dr Warren Blake, said that coaches and athletes have approved the health protocols drafted by the medical committee of the association for the safe restart of the sport, and that they are ready to spring from the blocks as soon as the Ministry of Health grants approval.

“We have pretty much got the approval of the coaches and athletes. They have recommended a few changes, which we will adjust then send it to the Ministry of Health for their epidemiologist to review, and we have a good feeling that it will be approved because we sent it to an epidemiologist already,” Blake said. “We are going to be sending the protocols to them (Ministry of Health) for final approval this weekend, so hopefully, we will get it back next week.”


Blake said that the JAAA has been receiving a number of requests from coaches to stage its All-Comers meets.

“Based on the requests, I think we will have to start in the next two weeks,” he said.

The protocols include the frequent sanitisation of equipment such as starting blocks to prevent the spread of the virus.

“For the All-Comers meets, we will have to pay the additional cost to host the meets and we are prepared to do so,” Blake explained. “Meet organisers who are looking to have meets from now on will have to observe these protocols and they will have to get the necessary things for the sanitisation of the equipment.”

JAAA’s proposed COVID 19 protocols:

Stakeholders will have to be made to understand that they participate in meets at their own risk. Athletes should sign an indemnity agreement releasing meet organisers from any responsibility associated with contracting COVID-19.

Main stakeholders considered:

Professional athletes.

Athletes’ staff: coaches, managers, physiotherapists, etc.

Event technical officials.

Event volunteers and workforce (sponsors and partners, timing and accreditation systems, security, and stadium support services).

Event medical and anti-doping staffs.

Media and broadcasters.

Attending spectators. (Will be governed by public health regulations and guidelines. The World Health Organization risk assessment tools for mass gatherings should be used).

Risk assessment to be conducted for all accredited attendants. If individuals are deemed to be at greater than normal risk, they should undergo a medical clearance protocol. A medical doctor or public health specialist needs to be assigned to do COVID-19 prevention. This person is to be responsible for risk assessment and mitigation.

At the stadium:

Spectators and accredited personnel should be kept separate. With separate entrances, two separate flows.

Everyone in the stadium to wear masks at all times and in all locations. Athletes exempt when warming up or competing.

Accredited personnel must have on masks and have personal hand sanitisers to enter field of play. Personal kit should include masks and hand sanitiser gel.

Warm-up zones to be in open-air zones with restricted access.

Chairs in call rooms to be disinfected between each use.

In competition:

Minimise number of people on field of play. Essential personnel only.

Protective glasses/face shields and masks for officials having close contact with athletes.

No hugging after races. Keep distance from the public and officials where possible.

Equipment guidelines:

Clean starting blocks between each race.

Clean relay batons after each use.

Athletes to use hand sanitisers before each attempt in vertical jumps.

Landing mats to be cleaned after each jump.

Mix sand in jumping pits with virucidal agent.

Add chlorine to steeplechase water jump.

Clean throwing implements after each use.

Officials handling throwing implements to clean hands after each handling.

Recovery areas for athletes should be open air.