JAAA outlines new competition protocols as track and field readies to face starter's gun

Athletics

JAAA outlines new competition protocols as track and field readies to face starter's gun

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer
reidp@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 20, 2020

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The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), the governing body for the sport in the island, is to put in new protocols for the staging of track and field meets in the island as they seek to safeguard all who participate in meets as they press ahead with a restart after the postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Less than a week after the global ruling body for the sport, World Athletics, published a detailed guide for the hosting of international meets, Dr Warren Blake, president of the JAAA, told the Jamaica Observer that the international body had a draft document that would help to guide the planning and execution of meets under COVID-19 protocols.

While not going into details of what the plans are, Blake said on Tuesday that the protocols would be for athletes, coaches, officials and staff at the venues. Protocols for fans, he noted, would have to fall in line with Government guidelines as they relate to social distancing.

“The new protocols that the JAAA are putting in is currently in a draft stage and it is to be sent out to all our senior coaches for their feedback and input and then we will finalise the draft,” Blake said.

Protocols he said, “will take on board some of the protocols put in by World Athletics for international competition”.

“A lot of what World Athletics speaks to are arrivals and departure of international athletes and keeping them safe while they are in your countries awaiting competition, the whole aspect of providing them with proper sanitation and keeping them safe, because tantamount to the protocols is the safety of athletes, coaches, officials and staff at different venues,” Blake added.

Protocols listed by World Athletics will have an effect here, however, for events such as the Jamaica International Invitational (JII) and the Racers Grand Prix, which include international athletes as well as the national championships with overseas-based Jamaicans making up a significant percentage of the athletes taking part in the event.

Blake said: “The World Athletics protocols really don't speak a lot to the safety of the spectators because they will be governed by and large by whatever restriction the government puts in place for social distance in the stadia.”'

Last week World Athletics published a set of health and safety guidelines to assist competition organisers to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus when staging in-stadium outdoor events during the current pandemic.

“The guidelines, drafted by World Athletics' Health and Science Department, also address the post-peak period, as described by the World Health Organization (WHO) and are based on scientific and medical knowledge of the virus responsible for COVID-19, and includes, among other things, protocols for 'pre-event' when the athletes and others arrives at the airports and other ports of arrival into the country or city; arrival at the stadium, during the competition and afterwards,” noted Blake.

World Athletics mandates that upon arrival, each person is to be provided “with a welcome bag that includes single-use masks (three per day, minimum), bottles of hand sanitiser, disinfectant wipes, and a leaflet to explain the health and safety protocols for that particular event”.

The wearing of masks and social distancing must be adhered to as well as “LOCs are also strongly recommended to organise and use a medical encounter registry, recorded on an electronic system, to facilitate identification and further contact of potentially infected individuals”.

At the venue, there must be separate entry for spectators and accredited personnel which include athletes, media, coaches and officials “and the flows should not cross”.

The specific guidelines for individual disciplines as outlined by World Athletics are: starting blocks should be cleaned between each race; chlorine should be added to the water jump for the steeplechase; relay batons should be cleaned between each use, and relay teams should be discouraged from gathering or hugging after a race; the use of hand sanitiser should be recommended before each attempt in vertical jumps; officials should clean the landing mat between each jump, using a mop and virucidal solution or use a thin layer of recyclable plastic or tissue that can be placed on the jumping mat-sand in jumping pits should be mixed with a solution that contains biodegradable and non-skin-aggressive virucide agent; officials who handle throwing implements should clean their hands or use disposable gloves after each handling; in combined events, the room used by athletes to recover between disciplines should be open-air, if possible. Coaches should be encouraged to interact with their athletes using electronic devices.


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