Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Spectator speculation - Sport ministry still awaiting decision on fan attendance at local sports

Published:Friday | July 31, 2020 | 12:27 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer
Supporters of the Jamaica Tallawahs celebrate their team’s first win of the 2019 Caribbean Premier League campaign after they defeated the Barbados Trident at Sabina Park on Sunday, September 15, 2019.
Supporters of the Jamaica Tallawahs celebrate their team’s first win of the 2019 Caribbean Premier League campaign after they defeated the Barbados Trident at Sabina Park on Sunday, September 15, 2019.

Sport Minister Olivia Grange has not committed to a timetable for when local sports can have spectators again.

Local sports are returning, with golf and track and field resuming competitions without spectators, as the country continues to relax some of the restrictions enforced to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Grange said that she is still awaiting feedback from the Ministry of Health and Wellness regarding its proposed measures for a return.

“The ministry has submitted a set of protocols for the review and guidance of the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” Grange told The Gleaner. “Once that review is complete, a recommendation will be made to the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force for consideration. The return to local events by fans would be done under those approved guidelines in keeping with the Disaster Risk Management Act and the orders.”

Recently, other countries have formulated timelines for a possible return of spectators to stadiums. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told BBC Sport on July 17 that his government is targeting a return in October, with COVID-19 protocols subject to the completion of test events.

“We will pilot large gatherings in venues like sports stadiums with a view to a wider reopening in the autumn,” Johnson said. “From October, we intend to bring back audiences in stadiums.”

Those pilot events, which include the World Snooker Championship and the Greenwood horse-racing festival, are expected to take place in the United Kingdom this weekend. Men’s county cricket returned with fans in limited numbers at the Kia Oval in London recently. German football clubs are creating protocols that could see a possible return for fans in time for the start of the next domestic season.

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts said on Tuesday that he was hopeful that the restrictions would be eased to allow fans to return in time for the senior men’s national team’s final-round World Cup-qualifying campaign, which begins next June. However, Grange is cautious.

“The status of the virus and protocols prevailing at the time will determine whether full-capacity crowds can be accommodated next year,” Grange said.

Concacaf president Victor Montagliani said in an interview with Canada’s onesoccer.com on Monday that member federations would set their own policy on whether fans would be allowed to attend World Cup-qualifying matches.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com