Wellington says ISSA could pull plug on 'Champs' if timely Gov't approval not forthcomingFriday, April 09, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
Time is not on the side of the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships as stakeholders are caught in a nervous wait hoping to avoid a second-straight cancellation of the high school event.
ISSA President Keith Wellington was yesterday concerned that if Government did not give approvals for the resumption of track and field, his organisation could be forced to pull the plug on the annual event as early as this weekend.
Having submitted “operational procedures and how we expect to ensure that it is a safe 'Champs'”, ISSA is yet to hear anything from the Government “one way or the other”. And with less than three weeks from the scheduled start to the five-day championships, he said the organisation could be left with no option but to cancel.
The event was scheduled to be held April 27 to May 1, but the silence from the Government and the various agencies is of serous concern, Wellington said, adding the organisation was worried about the negative impact the cancellation of Champs for a second year could have on the student-athletes.
Champs 2020 was cancelled two weeks before the event was scheduled to start in March after the first case of the coronavirus was identified in Jamaica.
“We are now very concerned about the possibility of us having to make a decision regarding the staging of Champs at the end of the month, we are less than 20 days away from the scheduled start and we have not heard from the Government what their intentions are in terms of approval for the resumption of track and field generally, and specifically, for the approval of the staging of Champs,” Wellington said.
The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), the governing body for the sport in the island, had taken over the overall supervision and running of the sport at all levels and had successfully staged a series of meets between late February and March after the Government had given approval, accepting the protocols that were submitted.
However, permission was withdrawn for three regional meets that are being used as qualifiers for Champs and new dates had been requested for them between April 13 and 16, but these events are also in danger of been cancelled, if permission is not given.
“We would have done all we can do in terms of planning, engaging of our stakeholders to date,” Wellington told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
“However, all the other actions that are required to stage Champs by the end of April now require some level of certainty that we don't have and, therefore, if by end of the week we are not yet certain whether or not we will get approval, we will have to think about possibly cancelling Champs because the option of rescheduling is not an attractive one at this time based on the uncertainties that are prevailing,” said the ISSA boss.
Wellington said ISSA had “submitted all our documentation to the government, including our operational procedures and how we expect to ensure that it is a safe Champs, but we have not yet gotten any response at all to indicate one way or the other whether or not approval will be given”.
He said he is concerned with the impact that cancelling Champs two years in a row would have on the youngsters. “We are also concerned that should we not be able to stage Champs this year, it will have a significant impact on our student-athletes,” Wellington said.
The loss of scholarship opportunities, he said, was one of the issues being faced if the athletes did not get the chance to compete.
“First of all, in terms of the opportunities that are available to them for scholarships, many of them would have lost out on two years of building their profiles and, therefore, making it a little more difficult to market themselves to the college abroad that they usual aspire to.
“Also, we are really concerned about their psychological well-being because many of them would have been training really hard just to keep themselves in shape and to ensure that if the opportunity comes, they will be able to grasp it; it will be a challenge to us if we were not able to stage Champs, just to deal with the issues that these kids are likely to face,” Wellington ended.
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