Competing at Tokyo Games a personal decision, says SamudaFriday, July 23, 2021
BY PAUL A REID
Athletes , coaches and administrators will have to make personal decisions about whether or not they will go to Tokyo, Japan, for the Olympic Games even as the globe grapples with the novel coronavirus pandemic, says Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Christopher Samuda.
The Games, which formally starts today, will go on without spectators and under a state of emergency as a fifth wave of infections including the Delta variant rocks the Asian country.
None of the Jamaican athletes who qualified in one of six sporting disciplines have opted out of attending the Games.
Samuda, who was re-elected as president of the JOA after his address to the virtual monthly meeting of the Rotary Club of Downtown Kingston recently, said there are also many lessons to be learned from the pandemic.
Among those he said were the importance and value of sport psychologists; sports infrastructure must accommodate “bubble” centres appropriately outfitted, as well as the need to invest more in medical sciences and sport sciences.
“From all indications and barring a precipitous event that will frustrate the journey and cancel the destination, the Games will begin. But the athlete, the coach, the professional and administrator, in the interest of their own safety and health, have the right, in respect of the journey, to say 'no, I will not go to Tokyo'. It is a personal, a private right that is inalienable and which I respect and, in the exercise of that right.”
He said the JOA “has the responsibility to provide medical information to the athletes and coaches and to actively encourage them to sit with their personal physicians who are knowledgeable of their medical history, so as to assist them in making an informed decision and not to ingest spurious talk and necromantic theories about vaccination”.
While due consideration is being given to the questions of vaccination or even whether to travel to Japan, Samuda said Jamaicans must grasp the lessons which are to be learnt in the wake of the virus.
“It is teaching us the importance and value of sport psychologists in combating the infirmities of the mind and spirit and in rewiring the athlete, coach and administrator to function with emotional intelligence and fortitude, instinctive resilience and physical electrolytes in a hostile and virulent environment,” he said.
Calling COVID-19 a “wayward boy”, Samuda said it was “forcing us to introspect and reflect deeply in sport and other spheres of life on the maturity and wisdom that are required to discipline him - to exercise parental control. If we fail, we will not only have a child that is defiant but one who will not play by the rules of the game, one who will abuse the spirit of the game and, ultimately, one who will condemn the soul of the game”.
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