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No double standard in approval of Sigma Run, says McKenzie

Monday, February 22, 2021

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie is defending the Government's decision to grant permission for the 2021 staging of Sagicor Sigma Corporate Run.

In total, 36 women and 45 men started in two separate races, in the charity event, which was held yesterday. Additionally, eight wheelchair participants started in their own race.

McKenzie, in a statement from his ministry this afternoon, dismissed claims of double standards and outlined that submissions for other sporting events have been approved.

"The ministry recognises the concerns of Jamaicans and the general public and would like to give the assurance that the event was monitored and found to be compliant with the approved protocols. We are reaffirming to Jamaica that the consideration to grant the approval was based on compliance with the established Protocols only and is the first of a number of applications that was considered," continued the statement.

See ministry's statement in full:

Following the announcement by the Most Honourable Prime Minister in Parliament on February 9, applications for sporting events are being considered on a case-by-case basis. An application for the Sigma Run was made and approval was given after a full range of stringent protocols, for which the company was required to manage, were considered. The Ministry recognises the concerns of Jamaicans and the general public and would like to give the assurance that the event was monitored and found to be compliant with the approved Protocols. We are reaffirming to Jamaica that the consideration to grant the approval was based on compliance with the established Protocols only and is the first of a number of applications that was considered.

The Local Government and Rural Development Minister stated that the Government is keenly aware of the general desire for a return to normal life and noted that even-handedness is being applied to all applications for sporting events. Consistent with this approach we are still trying to manage the pandemic, and as such applications for sporting events have to be assessed case by case. The necessary protocols are required to be designed to govern every event that is approved.

Presently, some submissions for events made by the Jamaica Amateur Athletics Association (JAAA) have been approved, while an application from the Jamaica Karting Association is now being reviewed. As the Minister responsible for the management of the Disaster Risk Management Act, I want to assure the public that every effort is being made to ensure that normal societal life can return, while ensuring that COVID-19 is effectively managed. I therefore ask all our people to observe all the health and safety protocols, as this will fast forward our recovery from this pandemic.”

Failure to obtain the proper approvals can have unwelcomed consequences. Unfortunately, this is what happened at the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) Training camp. While the JFF had submitted an application for the event, it did not wait for approval and sadly multiply cases of COVID was discovered among the players.