By Gavin Lewis
AS athletes navigate the challenges and uncertainties imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, many are welcoming the Government’s partial restart of sporting events.
In mid-March, the National Sports Commission (NSC) closed all Government-run sports facilities, and other sporting organisations followed suit after the adoption of the COVID-19 preventative measures.
As restrictions are eased and Guyana shifts into a new normal, athletics, bodybuilding, cricket and tennis are some of the sport disciplines that have gradually resumed competitions, in keeping with the preventative measures. Other sport fraternities have shelved their activities for the 2021 season.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Hon. Charles Ramson Jr has said no spectators will be allowed at sporting events which have been granted permission to resume competitions.
“The Task Force is the one that gives guidance. Their position, along with the government’s position, given the last guidelines that we had, was that certain sport events are allowable. And the condition the Task Force has outlined is one where it’s not for spectators,” he said.
The minister made these statements during an interview on Kaieteur Radio on November 13.
Speaking with DPI, national track and field star Mr Jonathan Fagundes said he supports the relaxing of the measures for athletes.
“For me, it’s all about the youths and it would benefit me in a tremendous way whereby I’ll get to get more group trainings and push my ability to the next level,” he said.
First vice-president of the Guyana Tennis Association, Ms Cristy Campbell, said while the pandemic has halted its annual Inter-Guiana Games she too is pleased about the restart.
“I see no problem with opening. The responsibility is solely on the administrators and athletes to ensure that they follow the stipulated COVID-19 guidelines. I’ve no problem and I think it’s a good idea for them to open facilities so we can move forward,” she said.
Access to training is particularly important as many athletes hope to benefit from the elite training programme the ministry plans to start, to hone the skills of those who are above-average.
Last Wednesday, the Ministry of Health granted permission for some competitions.
“We have granted permission for cricket matches, but without spectators and along with this permission, bars at these events must be closed,” Minister Hon. Dr Frank Anthony said.
Cricket coach at Transport Sports Club, Sean Massiah, is pleased about this as many young cricketers lost valuable training time due to the lockdown.
“When you look at the game of cricket in particular, and the other sports that are non-contact sports, I think cricket could’ve gone ahead a little earlier because it’s a non-contact sport, and that would’ve played a major part in a lot of athletics. But I am so happy if they can open up sports now. I am looking forward to them giving the green light to restart those cricket and athletics competitions,” coach Massiah said.
Sport organisations such as Guyana Cricket Board and Guyana Football Federation (GFF) have outlined their upcoming activities for the next few months. GFF has also appointed its own COVID-19 committee to oversee the safe return of the sport.
As the country continues to reopen in the new COVID-19 environment, local sport organisations and athletes have pledged to observe the national preventative measures to ensure a safe return to sports.