By Neto Baptiste
Renowned Antiguan Urologist Dr Dwayne Thwaites has warned that sportsmen and women are more at risk of contracting the potentially fatal Covid-19 virus when engaging in contact sports and is encouraging all players and fans to get vaccinated.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Thwaites said that although athletes could practice physical distancing in sports like cricket and motor racing, it is more difficult in disciplines like football and basketball.
“I always thought cricket was the best because nobody is up [close] under nobody because we social distance as cricketers, but with the football, the basketball, you’re in people’s space and you’re up in people’s faces so you are at increased risk. This is why they talk about the bubble; this is why they talk about getting these tests done because it’s called contact sports, remember that,” he said.
At least two international athletes with ties to the region, cricketer Chris Gayle and sprinter Yohan Blake, both from Jamaica, have said publicly that they would prefer not taking a vaccine.
Thwaites said that although some athletes may have a legitimate concern regarding the make-up of the vaccines, that major games and drug testing agencies have indicated they would not penalise athletes for taking the medication.
“On the phial itself, you could see what its constituents [ingredients] are and the constituents are nothing. The athletes are complaining but they would go and take a big steroid dose which could affect their sterility and their growth hormones and next thing they know, they have a problem. If you don’t want the vaccine, then you don’t have to take it and you don’t even need to negotiate,” the doctor said.
Thwaites, a horse owner and member of the horse racing fraternity here, believes that more could be done from an association standpoint to educate and sensitise athletes, adding there is a need for more dialogue between associations and authorities regarding a smooth and safe return to competition.
“I know a lot of the athletes and a lot of people listen to your programme and so from here onwards I think the associations have to meet. I think our problem, really and truly, are the people who are controlling and don’t seem to have good ideas as to how we can go back out there [play sports] and start doing these activities,” he said.
“They need to meet and talk with the sports representatives so that we could get an understanding of which direction we are going to go. We are kind of haphazard. People are being arrogant about their statements and trying to curb and say things but it just needs a meeting. It needs for people to get together and talk through this so that we can find an avenue and a route towards restarting and do activities,” he added.
Vaccination is ongoing across Antigua and Barbuda with priority currently being given to residents who are 65 years and older.