Sun | Nov 28, 2021

JAAA’s curfew conundrum

Athletics body anxious about new restrictions of movement and impact on upcoming meets

Published:Monday | March 22, 2021 | 12:29 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
FORBES
FORBES
Calabar High School’s Evaldo Whitehorne competes in section three of the Class One Boys’ 400m event at the JAAA Qualification Trials at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, March 13.
Calabar High School’s Evaldo Whitehorne competes in section three of the Class One Boys’ 400m event at the JAAA Qualification Trials at the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday, March 13.
MCKENZIE
MCKENZIE
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Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) First Vice-President Ian Forbes says that he is cautiously optimistic that the developmental season will be able to continue in the wake of the latest COVID-19 restrictions announced last night....

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) First Vice-President Ian Forbes says that he is cautiously optimistic that the developmental season will be able to continue in the wake of the latest COVID-19 restrictions announced last night.

The latest restrictions announced by Prime Minister Andrew Holness include a tightening of the curfew hours, specifically on weekends, starting on Saturday. The curfew will start at noon and end on Monday at 5 a.m. The weekend restrictions will continue until April 13. The tighter restrictions threaten to derail the season, which is already off to a late start.

Sports were allowed to resume on a case-by-case basis in February as a provision was made under the Disaster Risk Management Enforcement Order. Forbes says that the JAAA awaits official direction on what the restrictions will mean for the season’s future.

“Of course, on the surface, it appears that it would impact any possible plans for meets and qualifications for the next two or three weeks,” Forbes said. “So, we’ll await official word from the authorities where this is so. We seek clarification as quickly as possible to ensure that we are prepared to go whenever we are deemed fit.”

The season, which included meets for the senior athletes, started on February 27 and was expected to conclude on April 3. The restrictions come five weeks before the scheduled start of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs), which were pushed back to the last week in April because of the rise in COVID-19 cases.

Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie said during the press conference yesterday that the ministry is pleased with the measures enacted by the JAAA and the meets could continue as long as those standards continue to be met.

“We have been working very effectively with the JAAA in regard to their development meets, and we are satisfied with the response from it if it means that it stages it under the basis of strict protocols,” McKenzie said. “Those meets will continue once the request is made and the protocols are observed.”

POSITIVE FEEDBACK

Forbes says that they are encouraged by the positive feedback from the Local Government Ministry, which has final approval on sporting events.

“We are pleased that they are pleased with what they have seen thus far because we have put a lot of hard work into this project, and the participants have been very cooperative and have been observing the protocols,” he said. “We are hopeful that they will allow us to continue because the rest of Jamaica would have seen that the protocols practice would help to mitigate significantly against the pandemic.”

The Gleaner sought a comment from ISSA President Keith Wellington on his immediate reaction to the curfew changes and what it means for developmental meets leading up to Champs. While responding, he stopped mid-sentence and decided against offering a comment.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com