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By Neto Baptiste

Associations wishing to host competitive events must first seek approval from both the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Health.

This is one of the conditions discussed and agreed between representatives from the country’s sports associations and the sports ministry during a recent meeting to map the way forward regarding the phased reopening of competition for major team sports.

Sports Minister Daryll Matthew, however, revealed that the country may be some ways off where it pertains to the possible return of spectators to the stands.

“Associations will have to make a formal application to the Ministry of Sports for a competitive event to be held and that application will be reviewed by the Ministry of Sports and the Ministry of Health prior to approval given and, of course, things like the protocols they intend to follow. At this time, we are not in a position where we could say spectators will attend. However, given that we are now inoculating our population, the time may come where we might say spectators may attend if they have been fully vaccinated but we are not at that point as yet; we are just now speaking about the ability to have a competition,” he said.

Matthew clarified that those associations that would have already established protocols may not need to resubmit, adding that the authorities will be doing all in their power to ensure a smooth and efficient process.

“The Ministry of Health through Cabinet, has appointed a doctor to the Ministry of Sports who will work with the associations to develop their protocols, if they do not already have protocols. There are some sports that have their protocols in place already, with cricket being one, golf being one, and one or two other disciplines that had submitted protocols. So once you make a formal application to the ministry, it will be reviewed and permission may be granted for competitions to be held,” he said. 

The minister also revealed that associations will embark on a vigorous campaign, encouraging their members and supporters to get vaccinated for a speedy return to normalcy.

“Coming out of the meeting, a resolution was unanimously adopted by the national associations supporting the need to have persons vaccinated, including our athletes and administrators and so on and actively encouraging their members and those who come under their control to do so,” Matthew said.

“As it relates to the reopening of sports, Cabinet took the decision that, given the continued improvement in our epidemiological situation, our Covid numbers continue to go down and as we are strategically reopening several different sectors of our society, it is obvious that the sporting sector is one that at some point in time once the conditions allow, will be reopened,” he added.

Although some sports like golf, tennis, cycling and cricket were granted permission between late last year and early 2021 to restart competitions, major team sports like football and basketball were not as fortunate and have not held competitive matches since March 2020.