Samuda urges athletes to ignore COVID-19 conspiracy theories
Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) President Christopher Samuda said despite the negative discourse, he advised athletes looking to compete at the Olympic Games this summer to not entertain conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines.
Speaking at an online Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston meeting yesterday, Samuda says that it is a personal choice whether to vaccinate.
"We (JOA) have a responsibility to provide medical information to the athletes and coaches and we encourage them to sit with their personal physicians to assist them in making an informed decision," he said.
"They should not ingest thoughts about conspiracy theories about vaccinations.
"The JOA has a duty to advise itself about all the factors in deciding on the journey to the destination being pursued.
"And to date, with all factors being considered, we continue to prepare for that journey. So the due consideration is the decision to journey or not to journey, or to vaccinate or not vaccinate."
Samuda says, however, that the JOA expects the Games to occur.
"From all indications, barring any precipitous event that will frustrate the journey and cancel the destination, the games will begin," he said.
Their own safety
"But athletes, coaches, professionals, and officials in the interest of their own safety and health, have the right to say 'No, I am not going to Tokyo.'
"It is a personal and private right and I respect the exercising of that right," he said.
"The rigid and robust protocols include rigorous and invasive testing regimes from arrival to departure, which is non-negotiable, and it's mandatory to quarantine if you are not vaccinated.
"But the Games are on, so let the games begin. It is the rallying cry of the hierarchy of the global Olympic."
Samuda said that the athletes, the primary employees of the sporting industry, have waited patiently for five years (the Olympics were postponed last year because of the pandemic), and to earn their glory and to use world's pinnacle platform in multi-sports competition to demonstrate their marketability value to sponsors.
"Athletes go to work every day just like us," he said. "They go with the expectation that when they work, money will be in the bank to feed their families and their children, so by the sweat of their brow they eat and they participate and we enjoy in the comfort of our offices.
"So should the Olympic movement give in to viral invasion? Or should it pick up arms against the enemy in sport in fighting the battles on the way to winning the war?"