By Carlena Knight
Sports Minister Daryll Matthew hinted that competitive sports could be streamlined for later this year.
Although there is not a definite conclusion on the matter, Matthew revealed that if competitive sports will return it will be done in measures with stringent protocols in place.
“We continue to monitor and much the same way we opened incrementally for the recreational sports, we will open incrementally as well. I fully expect that the first sports that will be allowed to host competitions may be again those individual sports but under certain conditions. You have tennis, you have perhaps golf, cycling maybe swimming but again very strict conditions will have to exist. I believe in the first instance there may be no spectators allowed to gather at these competitions but again these are decisions that will be taken in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and their protocols and the advice they continue to receive from the medical experts both local and abroad,” said Matthew.
Domestic sports were halted in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Gradually, sports made its return over the months but only for recreational use. Individual sports like swimming and golf were some of the first sports to resume, while basketball and football were the last two as, according to health officials, those two sports posed the highest risk.
This move was met with a lot of scrutiny from the public, but Matthew explained the reasoning behind both sports being allowed to continue recreationally.
“Persons that would ask, ‘well, given that we are still in a Covid experience and environment why did the government allow basketball and football in particular to reopen’, and the reason is simple: given that we had no evidence of community spread any further, we recognised that first of all these were two major sporting areas where I believe most of our athletes participate both recreationally and otherwise, and so given the fact that there was no evidence of any community spread any longer in Antigua and Barbuda and there still isn’t, we took the decision to allow football and basketball recreationally,” the minister of sports said.