JAAA awaits permits for developmental meets
Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) First Vice-President Ian Forbes says that a time table has not been finalised for the approval of permits to host track meets, despite dialogue with the Ministries of Health and Wellness, and Sport.
His comments are in the context of the 20th staging of The Queen’s/Grace Jackson Track Meet, scheduled for January 30, being postponed because of COVID-19 concerns. Forbes says 12 events that were scheduled for this month have been postponed. While he says that the meeting between the ministries last week led to an agreement on the chain of command for processing requests, they now have to seek further approval from the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
“It was agreed that the applications for the permits to host meets would be pretty much facilitated via the Ministry of Sport, who would then pretty much [take] the applications and forward them to the Ministry of Health for approval,” Forbes told The Gleaner. “[But] here is also a new player in the process. ODPEM also has to grant approval for the staging of meets.”
The Tyser Mills Classics, which was held last December, was the first meet of the secondary-school season to take place after months of inactivity caused by the pandemic. While a tentative scheduled was agreed upon with a COVID-19 protocol framework introduced, which included recent training for mandatory COVID-19 marshals, at the JAAA’s calendar conference last month, no meets have been held since then.
Forbes says that the JAAA hopes that adjustments can be made to the restrictions under the Disaster Risk Management Act that would facilitate approval for meets. He acknowledges, though, that if the restrictions continue, it would further complicate the process of approving events and could affect the staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships with an initial target date for late March.
“The order extends to the 31st of January, so we are hoping that might be modified. But my thinking is that once that is in place, the approval process might be further stalled,” Forbes said. “Athletes have to meet the required qualification marks, so in terms of having enough meets to facilitate this, it’s running very tight.”
Queen’s/Grace Jackson Track Meet director Olive McNaughton says that they have made a request to the JAAA for the meet to held in March. She hopes for prompt action by the bodies to facilitate events this year, given the adjustments made to secure safety and compliance.
“We had reduced the number of events to just the 200m, 400m and hurdles in order to have less persons attending the event and to ensure that we follow the guidelines as best as possible; not to have too many persons in the arena or at any one time,” McNaughton said. “ We really hope that the powers that be can put things in place so that we can resume track and field in a safe [manner].”