Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Commonwealth intervenes to rebuild hard-hit sport sector

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2020 | 12:10 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Commonwealth collaboration is vital to the recovery of the sport sector, which has suffered a crushing blow from essential measures to stem the spread of COVID-19.

This was the recurring theme as sports ministers from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific met at a landmark forum where the impact of the pandemic on their sector was discussed.

Representatives spoke about the deep health and economic scars left by the closure of community sport, gyms and exercise facilities, the decimation of the local and international sporting calendar and the loss of revenue from broadcasting and sponsorship deals.

According to a recent Commonwealth study, while the overall economy of the 54 member countries would contract on average by 3.2 per cent in 2020, the contribution of the sport sector to gross domestic product could drop by well over 20 per cent in several states.


Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland said countries are shouldering many very heavy burdens as a result of the pandemic.

“Among these, necessary restrictions affecting the sport sector make much of its future uncertain and prevent it from making its much-needed contributions to physical well-being, mental health and economic activity.

“So it was really encouraging to see how sports ministers in our member countries are responding to the effects of COVID-19 with powerful and imaginative initiatives. Return-to-play toolkits, grants for community clubs and virtual programmes to help people of all ages to be physically active were among examples shared at the forum,” Scotland said.

The Commonwealth Secretariat has launched a range of innovative projects and programmes based on careful research and analysis, so that in all member countries, sports can be used more effectively to build communities that are socially and economically more resilient with healthier populations.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage, Amina Mohamed, chaired the forum.

She called the forum timely and critical for many governments still working hard to fight the devastating pandemic that ambushed the globe early this year.

“The forum confirmed an unmistakable desire among Commonwealth sport ministers to collaborate, share solutions and pool their collective knowledge aided by the Commonwealth Secretariat, including a newly developed pool of resources, carefully crafted to support countries to resuscitate sport sectors choked by COVID-19, and ensure that we rebuild healthier, more resilient, inclusive and sustainable economies and populations,” Mohamed said.

In a statement released after the forum, sports ministers, including Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange, agreed that future policies, programmes and competitions should integrate delivery modifications and virus suppression measures, and that the sector should be a focus of recovery and rebuilding efforts.