Thu | Jul 29, 2021

The waiting game - Associations anxiously prepare for discussions with Government on safe sports return

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2021 | 12:13 AMLivingston Scott/Gleaner Writer
Cyclist Oshane Williams in action at the National Stadium on Sunday, February 11, 2018.
Cyclist Oshane Williams in action at the National Stadium on Sunday, February 11, 2018.
Swimmer Zaneta Alvaranga in action at the National Acquatic Centre on Friday, April 5, 2019.
Swimmer Zaneta Alvaranga in action at the National Acquatic Centre on Friday, April 5, 2019.
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A number of sporting associations are of the view that the move by the Government to initiate dialogue with them for the return of sports means that they are a step closer to that reality.

Sports have been halted for nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and although athletics, horse racing, lawn tennis, and golf have received approval for resumption, the return of other sports has been uncertain.

However, Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and Sport Minister Olivia Grange said that they would be having a series of meetings with sporting bodies with the aim of expediting the resumption of sports.

Although some sports associations say the meetings are long overdue, they all say that having these discussions will give the sporting bodies a better idea of where they are and how to move forward to get sports restarted.

Jamaica Hockey Federation President Fabian Stewart says that the body has been desperate for news for some time, and these meetings will help them to really know what is going on.

“We need to know what is happening,” he said. “Is it that we are going to put in enhanced protocols? Is it that we are not moving, and what are some of the triggers for us to move?”

The technical team of both ministries met on Thursday, and Stewart said he is curious to know what transpired in that meeting.

“Most of us need some indication as to what came out of the meeting in terms of timelines and other information,” he said.

Aquatics Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) President Martin Lyn has been keeping tabs on the situation and is quite encouraged by the developments.

“We heard the discussions, and I anticipate that aquatics is right there at the top [of the list] for resumption as all protocols could be followed very easily,” Lyn said.

MEETING WITH THE GOV’T

He said ASAJ’s objective over the upcoming weeks is to sit with the Government and make plans. The association has also sent a request to the Government, asking for an early meeting.

“I believe we are getting closer, generally,” Lyn said. “We just have to figure out the middle ground between safety and competition, and certainly aquatics can do so. We are more prepared than many other sports.”

Jamaica Cycling Federation (JCF) President Wayne Palmer sees this as the first real opportunity to get sports going again.

“The ministry is trying to get sports back, but they need to sort out some protocols first, such as schools,” Palmer said. “But there seem to be several challenges that the ministers face.”

“We feel there is an opportunity to get back out and get going because we are low risk, but we have to be guided.

“So irrespective of how we feel individually, we have to be guided by persons who are seeing the bigger picture and not just for sports, but all the different institutions.”

Palmer says, though, that the latest move by the two ministries is a step in the right direction.

“Once the consideration is there to meet and discuss, I think we are a step closer,” he said. “Before, we were doing things and nobody was paying attention or listening to us, or considering our position.

“So the mere fact that there is a forum for some discussion so we can be heard, I think that is a step in the right direction.

“The next step now is for us to fast-forward everything, and in a controlled manner to allow us to get back to what we do best.”

Palmer says the JCF will be pushing for the earliest possible return of cycling.

“We will be pushing as a individual body to see if we can get our situation looked at individually,” he said.

“Because sometimes when you generalise, you miss out on some of the uniqueness of some sports.

“Those things make a difference, but at the same time, we want to make sure things are controlled and things don’t go haphazardly.”

livingston.scott@gleanerjm.com