Wed | May 12, 2021

JAAA takes charge - Track and field authority proposes to stage meets exclusively in COVID climate

Published:Sunday | January 31, 2021 | 8:58 AMRobert Bailey - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Oneika Brissett from Rusea’s High School (left) goes on to win  the Class One 800m at the Tyser Mills Track Meet at Calabar High School on Saturday December 12, 2020.
Oneika Brissett from Rusea’s High School (left) goes on to win the Class One 800m at the Tyser Mills Track Meet at Calabar High School on Saturday December 12, 2020.

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) is looking, as part of its efforts to secure approval for the resumption of track and field in the island, to become the sole organisers of all meets in Jamaica, this according to a proposal that was recently submitted by the Garth Gayle-led administration to the relevant government authorities.

First Vice-President of the JAAA Ian Forbes confirmed to The Sunday Gleaner that the proposal was one of the main elements of the COVID-19 safety protocols that have been submitted by the administration for approval.

“This is just a proposal that we have submitted, and so we are awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Sports, and the Ministry of Local Government, because these are the ministries that will deal with the approval process,” said Forbes.

“Some of the fine details are being finalised and so I can’t speak to that just yet, but suffice it to say that the JAAA will have overall responsibility for the hosting of these meets,” added Forbes.

He also shared that the plans also include a two-month window of activity, which will include qualifying meets for the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships, as well as the National Championships.

“It is not finalised, but we are looking at a period of eight weeks to have these meets, but everything hinges on the state of affairs as far as this pandemic is concerned,” Forbes said.

The proposal also details the staging of multiple meets per weekend, in several venues over three regions across the island.

Forbes noted that the proposal was made after dialogue with a number of organisers of development meets, adding that they were all somewhat in agreement with these new measures.


“We couldn’t go ahead without consultations with the meet organisers, and they understand the situation that we are in. It is a pandemic and so we need quite a lot of control to ensure that protocols aren’t breached and everybody remains safe and healthy,” Forbes said.

“They (meet organisers) understand the situation. It is an unusual one and so we have to be innovative in how we move forward for the good of the sport,” he said.

When contacted, several meet organisers, who only agreed to speak to The Sunday Gleaner on terms of anonymity, confirmed what they described as a fiery meeting with the JAAA, with strong exchanges and a strong sense of disappointment among their ranks at the proposal.

They argued that the JAAA did not even consider their abilities to stage their meets within protocols, while pointing to major losses on their part, if the current position is held.


Meanwhile, Ricky Martin, the man behind the Corporate Area Development Meet, while expressing understanding for the current situation, said he is simply looking to see the possibilities, considering the continued spread of the virus.

“We are still waiting to see what will happen, because this is a pandemic and most of the meets are being cancelled or postponed,” said Martin. “We are waiting on the next move, based on the daily report of the virus and what the Ministry of Health is doing to keep it under control.”