Klempner Joaquin Leal Jimenez//
Within 2 weeks! Government expediting sports discussions for resumption of sports

Joaquin Leal Jiménez
Within 2 weeks! Government expediting sports discussions for resumption of sports

THE Government gave the clearest indication yet that there will soon be a resumption of sports and entertainment on the island when the minister responsible for both sectors, Olivia Grange, addressed the media recently. Grange said that both her ministry and the Ministry of Health and Wellness are working in conjunction to find solutions and expedite matters, while focusing on keeping everyone as safe as possible.

Joaquin Leal

The technical teams have been meeting, there have been three meetings so far. But, first and foremost, we want to ensure that our athletes are safe, that our sports administrators are safe, that our communities are safe, that our people are safe.

Joaquin Leal Jimenez

“And so, I appreciate and understand the concerns where there is a clamouring for the resumption of sporting activities but it’s better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes. However, I have engaged Minister Tufton and we have said to the technical team, expedite those discussions, come up with the solutions because we want to be able to address the sector,” Grange said

The minister of sports and entertainment also noted that discussions with the leaders of the various sporting bodies are ongoing and the necessary requirements on their part are close to being finalised

“In the meantime, I have been engaging the leadership of the various disciplines. So far I have spoken to JAAA [Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association], I have spoken to the Premier League [football] leadership, I am about to have discussions with boxing and, based on the requests that have come in, I am going to be engaging others who we have not yet engaged

The organisations have agreed to come back to me with certain specific things that I have requested. Once they come back with those things, then we will be in a position to get sign-off,” Grange stated

She intimated that track and field may be leading the return of sports

“We are focusing on training and, to some extent, trials — not major meets, but trials — so that the track and field athletes can at least get their times. So, we are moving speedily ahead

“I can’t give you much more details other than that, but we are in communication. We have been meeting virtually. During this time of COVID, virtual meetings are more efficient and much safer.”

Responding to complaints of a marginalisation of some sports, the minister was adamant that was not true

There is no prejudice against sports. In fact, people in entertainment could say the same. There is no prejudice against the sports sector and there is no prejudice against the entertainment sector. There is genuine concern.”

She indicated that extreme care was being taken to ensure the safety of all involved, especially the industry participants, while giving a clear timeline of when both sports and entertainment will be returning

“Remember, we are into community spread and so we have to be careful in the interest of those persons in the sector; it’s in their own interest. We just want to be cautious. I know the concern, I know they are hurting, I know some people are being affected emotionally and mentally but we are doing what we can. And I would say, within a couple of weeks we would have addressed some matters and we will see some activities in both sectors. In about two weeks you will see some activities.”

The minister also insisted that there would not be a rush, but instead a phased reopening to ensure safety and compliance with protocols

“It has to be done incrementally, it has to be done over time. We have to see — when we begin — how it works, if people are compliant, because we have to observe the protocols. And if people are compliant then we can say, ‘Okay, let’s look at the next phase.’ But as it is now, very soon some activities will begin on a broader scale.”

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