Major impact - Grange laments COVID-19’s effect on local sporting industry
OFFICIALS AT the Ministry of Sport are still crunching the numbers but Sport Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange is expecting the final figures on the impact of the spread of the coronavirus disease on the local sporting industry to be significant.
Grange noted that COVID-19 has caused significant financial and emotional fallout in the industry, pointing to several opportunities that were lost due to the pandemic.
“We have lost millions of dollars, but we are still making this assessment in order to quantify what the numbers are and the impact it has had on sports,” Grange told The Sunday Gleaner.
The virus brought the sporting industry in Jamaica to a standstill for about three months as the country recorded 614 confirmed cases of the disease. Ten people have died, while 417 individuals have recovered to date.
The disease, which has been sweeping the globe since December of last year, has forced the cancellation and postponement of a number of international sporting events including this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, which is now scheduled for 2021.
This year’s ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) has also been cancelled, as well as the Jamaica International Invitational Meet, the Racers Grand Prix and the Red Stripe Premier League competition.
“It (impact) has been tremendous financially and emotionally,” she said. “Just Champs alone, you can imagine the loss and the emotional impact that it has had on the athletes.”
“It has an impact not just locally but internationally, because coaches come to scout and a lot of countries come here during Champs. I have had requests from officials from overseas who were coming to be guests of the ministry,” Grange shared. The minister underlined that a lot of overseas athletes, who wanted to come into the island for training purposes, had to cancel their trip because of COVID-19.
“We had a request from one country where they were sending a large contingent of athletes to be based here for training leading up to the Olympics and that had to be cancelled,” Grange stated.
“It has been tremendous because the Jamaica Invitational Meet, the Racers Grand Prix, Champs and the local football competitions have all been cancelled and so it has affected all aspects of the sporting industry,” she added.
Horse racing is set to be the first major local sport to resume with the Caymanas Park, this Saturday, hosting its first raceday since March 21.