Thu | Oct 1, 2020

Shutdown threatens sports again

Published:Monday | August 10, 2020 | 12:00 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
WHATEVER (left), ridden by Anthony Thomas, closes in on victory in the sixth race at Caymanas Park on Saturday. Horse racing is one of the few sports that have resumed since the COVID-19 pandemic, but could face another lockdown because of a surge in new cases.
MANSINGH
SPEID
LYN
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Sports physician Dr Akshai Mansingh says that an increase in community spread of COVID-19 could put sports at risk of another hiatus.

The country reported significant increases in positive novel coronavirus cases over the last week. Thirty cases were reported on Thursday, causing the Government to set up community quarantines in Church Corner, St Thomas, and Sandy Bay, Clarendon. Double-digit increases at the weekend have pushed the total number of cases in the island to over 1,000, and 13 deaths.

Local sports were suspended in March because of the pandemic, but athletics, horse racing, and golf are a few of the sports that have been resumed since restrictions were relaxed in May.

Mansingh says that the escalation of positive cases is concerning.

“It’s disappointing because there seems to be some breach somewhere, which has caused the community spread,” Mansingh told The Gleaner. “If there is a lockdown or any similar restriction because of what’s been happening the last few days, then clearly, that has to be adhered to, and the hope is by doing so, we can minimise the number of cases quickly, and we can get back to some form of limited sports sooner rather than later.”

Jamaica Football Federation Technical Committee Chairman Rudolph Speid said recently that the body is in no hurry to restart the local football season, stressing the need for safe conditions to proceed.

“I think we should stop being too anxious and let the Government do its work and we just prepare for when we eventually can come back. We are not thinking that football is the end all and we have to be rushing to start back,” Speid said.

The new Red Stripe Premier League season was targeting a return in October.

However, Mansingh says that individual sports could still be allowed to continue provided that they abide by the protocols developed, which allowed their resumption.

“There are some sports that are more amenable to individual activity, athletics being one, golf, tennis, sports like that,” he said. “They can sort of continue as long as social distancing is maintained as it is supposed to be,” Mansingh said. “It all has to be on the backdrop of the conditions nationally. So once the public’s health is not at risk, I think consideration needs to be given to certain sports.”

Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica President Martin Lyn says that a return to national lockdown restrictions, which included the closure of the National Aquatic Centre, would be disappointing after recently reopening its doors, with strict protocols, to national and club swimmers.

“It would be a pity if we had to close the pool again as a result of other people not adhering to protocols and not adhering to the government guidelines,” Lyn said.

The Velocity Fest Track Meet at the National Stadium, horse racing at Caymanas Park, and the Emancipendence Golf Classic at the Caymanas Golf Club were three sporting events held at the weekend.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com