Delay tactics? Time to make a decision on Champs, Gov't
The Sporting EdgeThursday, April 15, 2021
With Paul Reid
At the time of writing this column on Tuesday evening, the deadline given for the Government to indicate whether the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) National Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships will take place this year had passed.
Since late last week, a wide cross-section of people have been on edge, waiting for the decision to be made — will there be Champs this year or will there be a second-straight cancellation of one of the biggest and most famous high school track and field championships on the globe?
The failure of the Government to address the issue, one way or the other, two weeks after they have been presented with the updated proposals from ISSA, is cowardly.
It leaves one to think that the Government is fully aware of the consequences of cancelling Champs for a second-straight year, but are afraid of pulling the plug and instead are waging a war of attrition with ISSA to see who will blank first.
If ISSA is forced to call off the event due to not hearing from the Government, the politicians can then say “see it was them, it was not us...”
The student-athletes and their coaches who have been preparing basically for two years, the fans, members of the media, not to mention coaches at US colleges, and even the executive and members of ISSA have all been waiting to hear whether the Government and their agencies will give the go-ahead for Champs that has been set for April 27-May 1 at the National Stadium.
If a decision is taken in favour of the holding of Champs this year by tonight, then it is feasible that the April 27-May 1 dates would still be in play.
However, if after today we are still waiting to hear the verdict, if the approval is given within days, then the meet could be pushed back to May 4-8.
We can only speculate and push around dates, however, and try to stay positive that Champs will go ahead as we slowly drag ourselves out of the miasma that we have existed in for the last 13 months or so since COVID-19 arrived here and changed our lives forever.
The thought that Champs will not be held for a second year is a difficult one to accept for a lot of good reasons, and the Government and their agencies such as Office of Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Management (ODPEM) might just also have very good reasons why they cannot give the go-ahead, but they have an obligation to tell us what those reasons are.
It is to the eternal credit of ISSA's sponsors that they have been this patient and have stuck around for the event.
Yes, the sponsors will still be connected to the high school track and field meet through branding, but no one could have blamed them if they had told ISSA they would skip this year.
If the private sector, which is run by some of the smartest sets of people in Jamaica, can see the value of Champs, certainly the Government should be able to, unless they have just been paying lip service to sports or using it to their own selfish ends.
Further postponing the restart of sports will not affect just Champs, but also the preparation of the senior athletes for the Olympic Games this year, and could even affect our national track and field championships that would be used to select the track and field team to Tokyo.
It would be the biggest irony to see which of these same politicians who we can't hear from now, who would be tripping over themselves to be on the plane to Tokyo.
The International Olympic Association had already mandated that each delegation cut the usual quota of officials by either 10 or 15 per cent. It would be justice if politicians be taken off that list altogether.
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