By Neto Baptiste
There is no law prohibiting unvaccinated athletes from taking part in national competitions.
This is according to Cabinet spokesperson and Minister of Information and Technology, Melford Nicholas, who said the protocol was lifted last year when unvaccinated residents were allowed to return to work and school with the provision of two negative tests per month.
“Actually, I believe the Ministry of Sports would have addressed this matter earlier and it’s a bit of a misunderstanding again. Probably as far back as November last year, we would have made the arrangements when we attempted to open up the sporting engagements and especially in the school system. What we did indicate is that once you are eligible to attend school, then you would automatically be eligible to participate in sporting competitions and so it would naturally follow that vaccination is not a prerequisite for the whole question of being involved in competitive athletic activity,” he said.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA), Leon Rodney, challenged the government protocol two weeks ago when he announced that unvaccinated players will be allowed to take part in the body’s Super 40 competition.
Rodney said players yet to take the jab would need to however produce two negative tests per month.
Nicholas said this has been the expectation for some time now and there was no need for Rodney’s challenge.
“What we are saying is that in the absence of persons who are vaccinated we would certainly want to ensure that a testing regime is certainly in place and that has been so for the schools and we certainly did make that indication available for the re-engagement of sporting activities. I believe this matter has come to the fore again because Mr Rodney from the cricket association challenged the government to say that they were going to be in defiance, but there was no need for that defiance because the regime had already been in place,” the minister said.
In December 2021, the cricket association required that all players competing in its Vax 8 tournament be fully vaccinated, in accordance with the government’s protocol. Several other competitions, including a 3 on 3 basketball tournament and a beach volleyball contest were also held in December last year under the protocol.