Strict safety measures for Champs 2021
Mandatory COVID test, ‘bubble’ among plans for event’s return
Organisers of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships (Champs) have designed a number of strict safety protocols ahead of the event’s return next month, including mandatory COVID-19 tests as well as containment, for all persons involved in the event.
This is an effort to execute the championships safely in the middle of the ongoing pandemic.
The championships was cancelled last year after Jamaica recorded its first case of the deadly virus, and was also a doubt this year. However, fears over a second consecutive cancellation of the event were recently alleviated after the Government granted approval for its staging on May 11-15 at the National Stadium.
In addition to being closed to spectators, ISSA vice-president and member of the organising committee, Colleen Montague, outlined that the other measures were implemented in order to better ensure the safety of those who will be involved in the staging of the event.
“Along with the stakeholders, we are extremely optimistic. There is cautious optimism as we have put all systems in place. We want to see it happen with safety being first ahead of competition, as we want to execute the event safely for the social health of our institutions as they really need something for upliftment, and hopefully Champs 2021 will be a big step in doing so,” said Montague.
“There will be COVID-19 tests for all personnel who will be involved at Champs this year, as we are working with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, and this should be done a minimum of three days before the start of the Championships,” Montague told The Sunday Gleaner.
FOOTING THE BILL
Montague noted that the organisation will be footing the bill for this exercise.
“At present, it is an ISSA cost, and as an organising body, we are currently looking on options for the best way to reduce the cost and how best this can be done, but we are yet to identify a single source for this cost,” Montague shared.
She added that they are looking to use the PCR testing method as opposed to the Antigen format, given the former’s added reliability. Media personnel and other stakeholders will also be required to pass a COVID-19 test before being allowed to participate in the event.
Additionally, athletes and their support teams will be required to remain in a controlled, secure environment throughout the championships and will be monitored by the organisers.
“Each team will have to inform ISSA of where they will be staying and also how their athletes will be transported to and from the National Stadium, as ISSA will have a logistics team to monitor the schools,” Montague continued before highlighting the support given by the various principals.
“I must commend all the principals so far for their support in trying to make the process work. They are all making a team effort, people want to see Champs happen, and they will do their best to ensure that we have a positive result,” said Montague, who is the principal at the Wolmer’s High School for Girls.
This year’s staging will be the 110th instalment of the popular championships.