Click here to print page

COVID-19's cloud of uncertainty still hanging over sport

Friday, April 16, 2021

News earlier this week that the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA) has approval from Government to host international games came as a fillip for sports lovers.

The hope is that if later in the year COVID-19 case numbers can be brought significantly down, international cricket can return to Jamaica.

The JCA president, Mr Wilford “Billy” Heaven, argues that, “though patrons might not be allowed inside venues, there will still be a [positive] commercial impact” from any such event.

Also, of course, it would lift the morale of the local cricket fraternity, which has been on lockdown for more than a year.

And, while there has been as yet no clear word on the way forward for local football, we note yesterday's upbeat report suggesting Boys' and Girls' Athletic Championships now seems likely to be approved by Government for May 11-15.

Knowledgeable track and field writer Mr Paul Reid cites an unnamed source as saying, “We are just awaiting the dotting of the I's and crossing of the T's” before final approval is granted.

Government agencies were said to be concerned about the capacity to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols at what is said to be the biggest local sporting event. This is even after 20 approved meets have been held between late February and mid-March.

Mr Reid tells us that three remaining regional championships Eastern, Central and Western Champs which partially serve as qualifiers for the all-island high school Champs are now set for the next few weeks, after being previously postponed.

But, as has happened so often in this COVID-19 era, good news is followed in short order by bad. Yesterday, came suggestions via wire service reports that the Japanese Government may decide against the Tokyo Olympics after all, because of the threat posed by a new surge in COVID-19 cases there.

Readers may recall that just under a month ago the traditional Olympic Torch Relay began in Japan with that country's Government reaffirming its commitment to hosting the global event, which is being projected to cost well in excess of US$15 billion.

But yesterday a senior member of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Mr Toshihiro Nikai, seemed to suggest that cancelling the Games remained an option.

“If it seems impossible [to host the Olympics] any more, then we have to stop it, decisively,” he was quoted as saying. And further: “If the Olympics were to spread infection, then what are the Olympics for?”

Subsequent reassurances from Games' organisers and a comment from Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga did little to calm nerves.

Responding to a reporter's direct question as to whether cancelling the Olympic Games was indeed an option, Japan's prime minister is reported to have said: “There's no change to the Government's stance, to do everything possible to prevent the spread of infections as we head towards the Olympics.”

We feel for all those athletes near and far who are training, putting all on the line, dreaming of what, for many, would be the very pinnacle of their athletic careers the Olympic Games. Yet, at the same time, wondering if they are wasting time, effort and resources. No one should have to deal with such uncertainty.