Mixed views on sports approval process
With criticism mounting as to the slow approval process to restart sporting events in Jamaica, sports administrator Don Anderson and Dr Wykeham McNeill have offered different perspectives on the current timeline to resume sports.
Sport Minister Olivia Grange said that proposals from four sports, including athletics and football, specifically the Jamaica Premier League, are closer to being approved to restart under the amended Disaster Risk (Management) Order.
The amended order, which was issued on February 5, is a part of the Government’s process to restart sports in Jamaica.
The recent staging of the Sagicor Sigma 5K Invitational race, which was given authorisation with reduced numbers and strictly enforced protocols, has added to the pushback, with the majority of sporting associations still awaiting approval, amid complaints about the length of time taken to green-light their events.
Anderson says that the concerns about the delay are valid, but believes that the current process must be followed to ensure that the protocols proposed are solid enough to make sure that they do not contribute to the current surge in positive COVID-19 cases in the island.
FRUSTRATION ALL AROUND
“There is obviously frustration. Frustration from the organisers and frustration from the spectators, but I think the process has to be followed. I do know that in principle, (the Government) ensure that all the ‘I’s are dotted and all the T’s are crossed to prevent any escalation of the pandemic,” Anderson told The Gleaner.
Jamaica currently has over 8,000 active COVID-19 cases.
The athletics season currently faces a limited window for both junior athletes to complete their season, which includes the staging of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, and senior athletes who are preparing for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
McNeill agrees that the approval process should be a lot quicker, and believes that facing the concerns head-on with the application of the protocols is key for safe resumption.
“I think there is room for a concerted effort by the Ministry of Sport to look at the different sports and see how you can re-engage those sports almost immediately,” McNeill said. “These things can be done. You just have to figure out how to do it and see if it works. If when you are doing it and you trace back and find it has a problem, you close it down until you resolve that problem, but what you can’t do is leave it alone.”
However, Anderson believes that among the concerns being debated by the Government in the approval process, is the ability to strictly enforce and control the events.
“Do we have the capacity to control that? That’s the big question, and I believe that is what’s probably in the minds of the Government and the people who are making that decision, whether or not the society is disciplined enough that the regulations are completely honoured, because that is what’s going to impact the level of outbreak,” Anderson warned.
According to Grange, the local associations for cricket and golf have had their proposals sent back to strengthen their protocols, while tennis, netball, karate, badminton and gymnastics are among the sports whose proposals are currently being reviewed.