Wed | May 12, 2021

Athletics could return in a couple weeks – Gayle

Published:Sunday | January 24, 2021 | 12:18 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Athletes sanitise their hands during the Tyser Mills Classics at Calabar High School on Saturday, December 12, 2020.
Athletes sanitise their hands during the Tyser Mills Classics at Calabar High School on Saturday, December 12, 2020.

Following recent meetings with the Ministry of Sports and Ministry of Health and Wellness, president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Garth Gayle, said his administration is hopeful that the local track and field season could restart within the next couple of weeks.

Gayle told The Sunday Gleaner that his association’s meetings with both ministries went well and they are now upbeat that within the next few days, all their submitted protocols will be approved for the safe resumption of the sport.

“The discussions have started and we anticipate that we should be able to get going in another two weeks,” said Gayle. “We have put the programmes in place and we have spoken to the relevant ministries, but mainly through the Ministry of Sports, and then to our stakeholders regarding the beginning if activities.”

“The JAAA has worked assiduously on a pandemic protocol as it relates to COVID-19 and we are satisfied that the training and the sensitisation that have been going on over the last two weeks are bearing fruit,” Gayle said.

The local track and field calendar has suffered a massive setback over the past couple of weeks after 12 events that were scheduled for this month have been postponed.

In fact, the Tyser Mills Classics, which was held last December, was the first meet of the secondary school season to take place after months of inactivity caused by the pandemic.

COVID-19 MEASURES IMPORTANT

Gayle underscored that while they understand the urgent need for the restart of the sport, he noted that it was important to acknowledge the dangers of the COVID-19 virus.

He underlined that his administration is putting all the necessary measures in place to ensure that the sport returns safely.

“I want to ask the sports-loving spectators and families to please be patient with us. We understand that we need to have competition or national trials for our junior athletes and for our senior athletes because of two critical events,” said Gayle. “There is still the possibility of the Tokyo Olympics and World Junior Championships, as well as the World Relays. These are events that are still on the card and so we have to be cognisant that we have to put the opportunities in place for them to be able to gain performances that are acceptable and would qualify them to compete at these levels.

“We are about to re-engage our stakeholders to put to them what I believe is a feasible and acceptable plan for the restart of the sport of track and field,” Gayle noted.

Meanwhile, David Riley, president of the Jamaica Track And Field Coaches Association, welcomed the update.

“It is good news because it is a sport that can actually contend in the pandemic, and that is what we have been asking for, and so it is just consistent with what the rest of the world is doing,” said Riley. “This is overdue but, of course, a lot of things can be modified in the midst of this, and so some events will be pushed back and we expect that, but we just need to have some competitions.”

robert.bailey@gleanerjm.com