COVID Spike Concerns JAAA

Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president, Dr Warren Blake, says that the recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica is troubling, as they seek to continue the local track and field season.

All local sports were suspended in March because of the pandemic, but the relaxing of restrictions in May and the approval of COVID-19 specific protocols led to the resumption of athletics in July.

However, the country has been reporting regular double-digit increases in positive COVID-19 cases since Thursday, which have increased the total number to over 1,000. The death toll has also risen from 10 to 14 up to yesterday afternoon, with four fatalities recorded since the beginning of August.

Blake said that their ability to keep hosting events for the remainder of the 2020 season will be dependent on the Government’s reaction to the escalation.

“We are a little concerned about the spike. We are really watching the numbers and watching to see what the Government’s response will be,” Blake told The Gleaner. “Because if Government deems it OK to continue, we will continue with out meets, but if the Government says that we have to go back into some restrictive shutdown or so, we may have to cancel and just terminate the season. But we will be keeping an eye on what happens this week with the numbers.”

The Velocity Fest Track Meet, which was held last weekend, was the latest event staged this season and the first to be held in the National Stadium since the outbreak.

Blake said that they were hoping to have three or four additional meets before closing off the season, but those plans have not been finalised. Although he is disappointed with the sharp increase in cases and the possible effects on the season, he stressed that he does not want to see any event become ‘Ground Zero’ for continued spread.

WAITING GAME

“It [makes] no sense saying OK, track and field must go on, and then allow an event to become a spreader event where we contribute to spreading the disease across the country,” Blake said. “We really have to watch it and see what is taking place, and a decision will be made based on the numbers and how widespread it seems to be.”

Meanwhile, Sprintec head coach and principal of G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport, Maurice Wilson, has made the decision to end the season for his athletes because of the recent spike.

While pleased that his athletes were able to get competitive races under their belt this year, he expressed his disappointment with the rapid increase of cases, which he believes has undermined the efforts to resume the sport, and by extension the country’s response to the virus.

“We were able to put into practice a template because anyone who came to the stadium would have realised that we would have now created a template for all the organisations who would be involved in track and field. If they were to follow those templates, they would be able to have a meet,” Wilson said.

“We would have been the acid test, but because of what is happening nationally, there is some amount of disappointment because it is obvious that persons are not understanding how serious this thing is,” said Wilson.


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