Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Athletics must lead by example – Bruce

Published:Thursday | December 31, 2020 | 12:15 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
An official sprays the starting blocks at the Velocity Fest track meet, held at the National Stadium on Saturday, August  8.
An official sprays the starting blocks at the Velocity Fest track meet, held at the National Stadium on Saturday, August 8.

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) committee member Dr Carl Bruce has stressed the need for strict enforcement of COVID-19 protocols at approved track and field meets in the coming season, while warning that the dynamic situation presented by the virus will continue to pose challenges to meet directors and other stakeholders.

He was speaking at Monday’s JAAA Calendar of Events Conference, which outlined the schedule for the upcoming athletics season. The 2020 athletics calendar was severely impacted by the pandemic, which resulted in the postponement of local events, including the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, or Champs.


Bruce, who is the medical chief of staff at the University Hospital of the West Indies, says that with the increase in COVID-19 cases locally, as well as new variants of the virus being reported, it is important for track and field to set the example in having safe events for 2021.

“We were one of the first sports to get approval to host meets and this is now under threat because of the impending surge (post-Christmas). It therefore means that the authorities; if we see the increase in number of cases, will be more reluctant to have large groups of persons because of the risk of transmission,” Bruce said. “And with the mutation of the virus and more contagious mutants being reported, the authorities are going to have additional concerns. I think, therefore, it’s up to track and field to make them more comfortable.”

Bruce outlined proposed safety measures to control group gatherings and recommended designating a compliance officer for the local organising committee 0f meets. He also suggested that respective teams appoint one official from their delegation who would be charged with ensuring that safety protocols are being adhered to. He said further, that contingencies must be made in case approval is not granted for all planned events.

“We must not assume that all of our meets are going to get approval. We may have challenges,” Bruce said. “Make alternative plans, not only for the professional athletes, but also for the amateurs, just in case some of our meets are not approved.”

Meanwhile, JAAA Assistant Secretary Brian Smith said that the conference sought to limit scheduling conflicts, given the number of local and international events slated for next season.

“It’s a situation where you know we are in a pandemic, so what it does for us is to ensure that nobody overlaps or interfere with another person’s event or another person’s meet. That is the basis of the calendar to have a structure in place, so that we can have meets at different intervals and right throughout the year,” Smith said.

The international 2021 season will feature postponed events from last year, including the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Carfita Games and the Under-20 World Championships. Additionally, Champs is tentatively scheduled for March 23 to 27, with an alternate date in May.