The start of a long, arduous roadFriday, May 07, 2021
Just a week ago this newspaper applauded the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for using the high-profile T20 cricket tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL), to help lift morale in India — a country besieged by COVID-19.
Sadly, within a few days of that commentary, the BCCI was forced to shut down the cash-rich tournament after several players and support staff contracted the novel coronavirus despite the supposed protection of biosecure bubbles.
Now, nine players from the Caribbean contracted to the IPL franchises — like their colleagues from elsewhere — must find their way home in circumstances made especially difficult since many countries, including Jamaica, have imposed travel restrictions to and from India.
No doubt Cricket West Indies and the various Caribbean governments, along with the authorities in India, will be doing whatever is necessary to help our nationals find their way home.
The Indian crisis illustrates just how quickly the novel coronavirus pandemic can bring death, sickness, and crippling fear, forcing a country such as India with 1.35 billion people to its knees.
Consider that just weeks ago the IPL began on a wave of optimism, with Indians and their Government believing they had somehow missed the full wrath of COVID-19.
Experiences such as that of India would have helped to persuade the Jamaican Government to persist with the current tight curfew measures, despite a seeming recent slowdown of new coronavirus infections.
Also, an abundance of caution has dictated the authorities' approach to the gradual reopening of competitive sport.
Mr Paul Reid's article, headlined 'Keeping it clean', published in yesterday's Observer detailing the work of “sanitisation technicians” at track and field meets — all without spectators — is an eye-opener.
Mr Reid tells us that: “Each starting block… each relay baton… the bed of the high jump area, and even the sand in the pits for the long and triple jumps must be sanitised after each race or jump…”
We are also hearing that a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will be a prerequisite for every person at next week's ISSA (Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association)/GraceKennedy Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships at the National Stadium, which will also be held without spectators.
That's the way of the world in this time of COVID-19. And this is the context in which the authorities have now given cautious approval for the resumption of competitive football, including the long-delayed Premier League.
The authorities are clearly satisfied that the Jamaica Football Federation and Professional Football Jamaica Limited can meet the various safety protocols “including the health and safety of players, referees, club workers, and administrators”.
We share the joy of the football fraternity. However, it's useful to remember that this is just the start of a long, arduous road.
Premier League organisers will have to bear in mind that, at all costs, spikes in the number of COVID-19 cases that can be traced back to football must be prevented. Of course, that's a message true not just for football, but for all sport and so-called entertainment or leisure activity.
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