Sun | Nov 28, 2021

Letter of the Day | Impracticalities and price of hosting Champs

Published:Friday | April 30, 2021 | 12:12 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

Let me start by saying, I understand the importance of Boys and Girls’ Champs to the Jamaican consciousness. I understand what it means to the futures of literally thousands of young Jamaicans. I grieve the missed opportunities, the scholarships, contracts and the irretrievable damage to some of these young lives if it does not happen.

I love the spirit of competition and camaraderie in what has become the nursery for Jamaica’s prominence on the world athletics stage. What I don’t like is statements that equate to optics, and optics only. I detest these grand pronouncements that are in no way consistent with what actually happens on the ground. That’s the part of the above release that really concerns me. I was driving to work this morning when I heard this sound bite, and immediately asked myself, exactly how would this work?

I’m not sure the people at ISSA understand exactly how massive an undertaking this is. By her own admission, I don’t know if Colleen Montague even understands the ramifications of the use of either type of COVID-19 testing, and in what situations they would be appropriate. It is only a PCR test that’s appropriate in this case. A Rapid Antigen test is not appropriate for asymptomatic athletes as in this case, and is often unreliable in the wrong context. A PCR test is J$22,000-28,000, if done privately. So even with a bulk discount it’s probably J$15,000-20,000 per test.

Champs this year is to be scaled down to probably about 1,000 athletes, with officials, that’s about 1,500 people. So let’s do the math. If you want a ‘biosecure bubble’, over five days, by international standards, that’s two tests. For 1,500 people and $20,000 a test, that’s J$30 million already. And that is with one test, J$60 million for two. Then you have to secure the accommodations, and test those staff with restricted access being enforced. All that without even the concern about these immature, excited minds being able to adhere to what would have to be strict restrictions. We would easily be approaching J$70 or $80 million, and that doesn’t even consider the various other costs associated with Champs. I am not saying it’s not doable, but in the financial climate that exists, that’s a stretch, at the very least.

Now here is my concern. Ms Montague stated that the bubble would be around the Corporate Area. What does that even mean? It’s a powerful term to bandy around and I don’t see it happening. It’s not something that can be done in a half-hearted manner either, not with all the work the Government and we all have done to bring these numbers down.

In short, if you can’t in actuality facilitate a bubble, let’s deal with that as an accepted risk and proceed if you must.

DR MARC RICKETTS

Family Physician