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By Neto Baptiste

Vice President of the Antigua and Barbuda Amateur Bodybuilding & Weightlifting Federation (ABABWF), Kimberly Percival, is hopeful that a new Cabinet stipulation that athletes hoping to take part in national competitions must be fully vaccinated, will not negatively impact the federation’s planned hosting of its virtual nationals slated for August 28.

“I did note the sports that were mentioned specifically in new reiteration of it [Cabinet notes] it refers to sports that have a lot more physical contact because chances are you are rubbing up against somebody, and I can’t see me playing football with a mask on, so I can somehow understand why that is going in that direction,” she said.

“I don’t think the same thing would apply to bodybuilding because of the nature of how our events are ran. We do have intentions of having athletes wear their masks on stage as we have seen in a lot of international bodybuilding shows, but of course, we will have to speak with the relevant ministries in the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Health,” she added. 

The federation is on track to becoming the first to host a virtual competition with the staging of its nationals in August where only athletes and officials would be in attendance. Cabinet, last Wednesday, however decided that all competitors must first take both doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine before taking part in competitive leagues.

Percival said the federation has received written permission from the relevant authorities for the staging of the event.

“We have gotten that approval, paper in hand from the relevant ministry which we are very grateful that our proposal was accepted. The date we are looking for is the 28 of August, and I think that puts us about 16 weeks out. The athletes are excited, gyms are reopened, so everybody is regaining momentum and if you’re following our social media pages, then you’d see a lot of people have been posting their journey to nationals 2021 so it’s exciting,” she said.

Percival, one of the country’s professional bikini fitness athletes, said that bodybuilders have been responding favourably to the pending nationals.

“We’re basically rolling over all of the registrants from last year and we’re in the process of touching bases with all those persons. I believe our event coordinator Mr. Joseph Meade, he is in the process of doing that and he should have a final count for us as to how many of those 50 athletes who would have registered last year still have intentions of crossing the stage this year. We have also had a few new registrants as well so I think that all in all numbers should be relatively in line with what we’re accustomed to seeing on stage,” the athlete said.

Unlike past nationals, fans will not be allowed to attend the August show slated for the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre. Spectators would however be able to, for a fee, view the competition online and maybe even vote for their favourite athletes.