By Neto Baptiste
Minister of Sports Daryll Matthew confirmed on Thursday that Cabinet has removed the requirement of a bubble for players and officials set to participate in the cricket association’s Sir Richie Richardson Under-17 Cricket Tournament.
Matthew further reported that players taking part in the tournament will not be subjected to weekly PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests but will, instead, be tested only at the start of the tournament with the cost absorbed by the government.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Matthew said also that all officials set to perform duties at the venue must be fully vaccinated.
“So, what will happen is that a personnel list will have to be provided of all the persons who will be participating and that verification will be done in that way so the cricket association will be asked to send a list of all their players for the different clubs and all the officials who are participating and the relevant actions whether its testing or verification will take place,” he said.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) Leon Rodney, though welcoming the change in protocols, questioned the need for the PCR tests, adding that the association must now move swiftly to get all the necessary information to the relevant authorities.
“Not entirely satisfied, and I must tell you that. But what has to happen now is that it puts us in a little hard-working situation because we have to meet and get the coaches that will be involved fully notified. We have to get the teams [list of players and officials] because fortunately or unfortunately — and there are some things I don’t like about it because I really don’t see why the PCR tests are important — but at the end of the day we so want the children to be able to be playing some cricket that I think it’s a reasonable ask,” the cricket boss said.
Meanwhile, Matthew said that both his ministry and the Ministry of Health are currently in talks with the athletics association regarding the protocols ahead of their national championships now slated for July 4.
“We are currently working with them, the athletics association, to try and ensure things are in place for them to have a smooth event and so that is a work in progress. I am certain that within the next few days, we’ll have some positive updates for the public but the answer is yes, we are working on it and we are trying our best to ensure that everything can happen in a smooth way. As I’ve always maintained, the intention is not to inconvenience or to prohibit any athlete from performing but we just have to also consider the health implications of any decisions we make,” the minister said.
The National Track & Field Championships was scheduled for June 19 and 20 but was postponed in an effort to give the association time to put the necessary protocols requirements in place.