Resumption of sports activities signals a return to normalcy

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020 00:00 |
Sports Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor. Photo/PD/FILE

Barry Silah and Eric Wainaina

The government yesterday issued strict guidelines for the resumption of sports activities in the country, signalling a gradual return to normalcy.

Sports Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor outlined the protocols to be enforced during a multi-stakeholder virtual meeting chaired by the Sports Cabinet Secretary Amb Amina Mohammed.

“The guidelines for resumption of sporting activities during the Covid-19 pandemic presents the State Department of Sport’s approach to opening up and supporting the sporting industry even as the country tries to live with and mitigate the Corona pandemic,” said the CAS.

The guidelines come barely two weeks after the government eased some restrictions imposed on places of worship, an indication that the government was gradually opening up the country after months of containment to check the spread of the Corona.

However, the regulations, especially in the sporting sector are near tricky and are likely to be costly and difficult to implement for all stakeholders involved as the government leaves nothing to chance to avert a shoot of the cases which have surpassed the 32,000 mark.

But learning institutions will have to wait longer after Education Cabinet Secretary Prof George Magoha ruled out the opening of schools and colleges next month.

Speaking in Trans Nzoia County yesterday, Magoha said cartels within the ministry were behind pressure on the government to reopen schools so that they can make a killing.

“But the fate of many businesses and lives that have continued to suffer the 9pm-4am curfew will have to wait for President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pronouncement later this week hoping the measures are eased further.

Hotels and eateries, supermarkets, fuel stations, mobile money agents, barbershops and salons, public transport,  chemists and vegetable and meat sellers, among others, are some of the businesses that have been drastically affected by the curfew.  

The recommendations, which attract punishment if breached comes at a time Kenya continues to lay groundwork for resumption of international sporting events, with Nairobi set to host the World Athletics Continental Tour meeting on September 26 at the refurbished Nyayo National Stadium and the Magical Kenya Open Golf Championships from November 12 to 15 at the Karen Country Club. 

Sports activities had stalled as of March leading to the postponement of three major global sports events.

General guidelines posted include; respective sports organisations ensuring dissemination of information on Covid-19 as released by the Ministry of Health to athletes, athlete support personnel, officials, staff and volunteers.

Contact persons 

All organisers and venue operators should appoint Covid-19 contact persons (preferably sports officers) and response teams; ensuring availability of hand washing facilities, sanitisers and thermometers at the training and competition sites.

Six key steps on the gradual resumption of sporting drafted by the team appointed in June include health tests, outdoors activities for a maximum of six people and maintenance of social distancing at all times and prevention of congregations of persons. 

Additionally, team training will have a maximum of 10 athletes with no contact and will be allowed in the second stage.

Outdoor activities with only a maximum of 30 persons will be allowed in the fourth step but with strict adherence to social distancing, Indoor activities for not more than 30 people.

Leisure centres and indoor leisure facilities will also be open, full training in lower risk contact sports places but with restrictions in total numbers of people involved such as athletes, coaches, staff, officials and spectators at some events.

Also in the fifth step; there will be no restrictions on lower risk contact sport activities, full use of sporting facilities will resume and spectators being allowed to attend live events on a restricted basis, subject to full compliance.

Handshakes, hugs to celebrate achievements and after events will be prohibited and so is the exchange and sharing of uniforms normally witnessed during football matches have been prohibited.

Temporary records of clients and visitors will also be kept for 30 days in a manageable way, which can assist the Ministry of Health to trace contacts in case any of the participants turns positive for Covid-19.

Sports CS said the guidelines, which, however left swimming pools and saunas closed because their high-risk status, was not final and adjustments could be done once a seven-day public participation exercise was done.

“The Advisory Committee has already done its bit in regards to a roadmap and indeed built guidelines. The group undertook diligent exercise in close consensus with MoH, and for that I am happy.

We all are looking forward to resumption but it has to be done with safety in mind.

We engaged all stakeholders and we look forward to getting more feedback so that we are well guided on rolling out the sports calendar,” she stated.

Dr Walter Ngatia who is seconded from MoH said the domestic guidelines have to be merged with International bodies.

“For instance, we will not expect handshakes and uniforms exchange when sports resume,” he stated.

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