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Ricketts, Fennell seeking more clarity ahead of top sporting events

Published:Tuesday | March 22, 2022 | 12:12 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter
Michael Ricketts
Michael Ricketts
Mike Fennell
Mike Fennell

The lifting of the COVID-19 restrictions under the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA) has created greater flexibility for the hosting of most sporting events. However, Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts and 2022 Carifta Games local organising committee chairman Mike Fennell say they would still like to get more clarity on how they will be able to operate events going forward.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness rescinded the DRMA last Thursday. The nightly curfews have been abandoned but some mask mandates for enclosed spaces remain in effect until April 15.

Football has taken advantage of the new freedom with the revoking of the vaccination card mandate at last weekend’s Jamaica Premier League games at Sabina Park. Additionally, the JFF released a statement last Friday doing the same for their upcoming men’s World Cup qualifying home games starting on Thursday against El Salvador.

Ricketts says that while they await capacity details for future events such as the Nations League this summer, they will still keep their COVID-19 protocols intact regardless.

“As it is related to social distancing, we still would want to do that but certainly based on what the prime minister would have said, there seems to be a bit more latitude,” Ricketts told The Gleaner “But we still want to maintain a level of care. We still do have the health and well-being of the nation at stake and we want to still adhere to the protocols that we would have put in place.”

Ricketts says that the leeway given will open much-needed opportunities to increase their revenue to continue the revival of the sport locally.

“We want to be careful, we want to be cautious and still adhere to the COVID-19 protocols but we are excited at the prospects from a financial and a commercial perspective. Football can breathe a little better now,” Ricketts said.

Fennell says that they are still awaiting specific details regarding what they are allowed to do with the new freedoms, as the local organising committee has requested fans for the Carifta Games which run from April 16-18.

“We want to get some further details. We had a meeting (on Thursday) with all our representatives from the other countries. And they want to know what it means,” Fennell told The Gleaner. “Certainly, it gives the impression that we can now determine ourselves what to do. The individuals who want to buy the tickets can make their own decisions and are not governed by any restrictive regulations that would be forced on us. But we do not have the details yet.”

Holness said that permits granted for events will include a condition that the number of persons in any venue must be below 70 per cent capacity until April 15. The ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletics Championships scheduled for April 5-9 will accommodate a maximum of 20,000 fans daily for both vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.

Fennell said that they would need specific guidance as to how to proceed in any capacity requests with the condition expiring the day before the Carifta Games begin.

“ They (other territories) heard the original announcement of the removal of the emergency procedures. But just want to know what it means in terms of attendance, we do not have any specific details for that. We have asked for it so that we can know what to do.”