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By Neto Baptiste

Sports Minister, Daryll Matthew, has hinted that major team sports like football and basketball could be the very last to restart competition given the high risk of constant contact between players.

Although he did not give a date as to when any sort of competition could return, Matthew said that his ministry, along with the proper authorities, are constantly looking at the situation.

“Whereas sports were opened incrementally for recreational activities and recreational use, we will open incrementally as well for competition. There are some sports that by the very nature of the sport, they can operate and be able to compete quicker than some other sports and I am thinking tennis, I am thinking perhaps swimming, maybe cycling, golf, cricket to some extent but football and basketball being the two major team sports that are very contact oriented, may be at the end of the chain for reopening for competition,” he said. 

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), Everton Gonsalves, had recently welcomed the easing of restrictions on team sports which allowed them to return to training. Gonsalves hailed the move a positive sign that the restart of competition could be close.

Asked if associations were willing to test players and officials ahead of matches, Matthew said that although that would be welcomed, it is not as effective on its own and must be done as part of a holistic approach.

“It’s more than just being able to test all your players because, yes, you may test the players and they all test negative today but then they go home, they go into the communities, into the supermarkets and anything can happen. If you look at what is happening with the West Indies team in England, they are in a bubble almost and once they are in that bubble and everyone tests negative, they are not allowed to go anywhere else because the very opportunity for anyone to leave that bubble creates an avenue for infection and could ultimately infect the bubble and so it is not just the ability to test people but the inability to control peoples movements,” the minister said.

Grenades FC holds a two-point advantage over Greenbay Hoppers with just two rounds of matches left in the football association’s Premier Division. The basketball association had cancelled its season in March.

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