JAAA puts pressure on Gov’t for return to action
The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has issued a call to order to the Government regarding a decision on track meets across the island during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite a delay of roughly two months, the local athletics season eventually got under way in March after the Ministry of Sport said in February that local sports would be allowed approval to return on a case-by-case basis. However, because of a rise in the COVID-19 infection rate locally, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced tighter restriction to curb the spread of the virus. Weekend curfews from March 27 to April 12, which ordered civilians off the streets at noon on Saturdays until 5 a.m. on Mondays, meant various development meets planned for April ahead of the ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls' Athletics Championships, which was set for the end of this month, and JAAA senior meets to get athletes prepared for the Olympic Games this summer were scrapped.
JAAA President Garth Gayle says the association met with key stakeholders on Wednesday evening and a strategy for the continuation of athletics was agreed on.
"Continued competitions for both our seniors and juniors are paramount at this time, hence the meeting with key stakeholders," Gayle said in a press release on Thursday. "It is important that a clear position is made from the Government for continued competitions under the strict COVID-19 protocols established by both the Government and the JAAA.
"We have seen improved performances by both juniors and seniors over the 20 events held to date and the JAAA stands ready to ensure that our athletes and officials are safe during competitions and not contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Time is critical for regional championships, Boys and Girls' Championships, and development competitions for our senior athletes, and the Government needs at act now as our athletes need these competitions."
However, Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie said recently that the ministry is pleased with protocols exercised by the JAAA and that meets could continue as long as those practices continue.
"We have been working very effectively with the JAAA in regard to their development meets, and we are satisfied with the response from it if it means that it stages it under the basis of strict protocols," McKenzie said in a press conference on Sunday, March 21. "Those meets will continue once the request is made and the protocols are observed."