MINISTER of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe said the ministry is knocking on the door of the Ministry of Health in an effort to implement a safe return to action as two years is a long time without sport.
Since the covid19 pandemic began to affect TT in March 2020 most sports have been on the sidelines with a few exceptions.
National teams and athletes have been allowed to train periodically during the pandemic. Sports that involve little to no contact have also been permitted at times including golf and tennis.
Cudjoe has repeatedly called for sports stakeholders to get vaccinated to help return to a level of normalcy.
Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh, asked on Wednesday at a covid19 briefing about the return of more sporting activities, said, “On the issue of outdoor sports I am aware that the Ministry of Sport is actually working on a policy so we will work together with them to do same.”
Newsday contacted Cudjoe to get details on the policy. She explained that the ministry has presented a plan to the health ministry for sport to return on a phased basis.
Cudjoe said national governing bodies under the sport ministry’s watch have been asked to provide details on what their plans for “return to play” are.
They have been asked to give details on their vaccination numbers.
“In some national governing bodies the rate is higher than in others, but what we are trying to do is return to play because we have not been able to return to any great level of normalcy for the past two years…so we in the Ministry of Sport proposed a phased return to sport because it is better to get out in small phases and steps than to be not playing at all.”
Cudjoe said they continue to advocate for the sporting fraternity.
“We have been knocking on the door of the Ministry of Health for quite some time.”
Cudjoe, giving more details about the phased return, said NGBs and sport serving bodies will first return to the field for fully vaccinated players and administrators.
“It is like you are operating in a bubble. We sort of looked at what CPL had done and copied their proposal and put a local twist on it.”
The first phase will not have any spectators.
“Once that goes well we then open up to having spectators at 50 per cent capacity. The fact that sport is being played again it should create that kind of excitement, we could get more people vaccinated to see how we could do it now at the community level as we roll it out step by step and more people become vaccinated along the way.”
Cudjoe wants their plan to show the Ministry of Health that this can be done.
Cudjoe is hoping sport can resume “sooner than later.”
“We felt that doing it in a phased, controlled manner would help to show the Ministry of Health and to show the public that, ‘Hey, this can work in a controlled way.’ We need to have sports being played for all the benefits that sports bring, not only to the seasoned athletes but also for schools, communities, vulnerable communities. We have to get out there and play once again.”
Cudjoe said the Ministry of Health has agreed in “principle”, but are monitoring the covid19 numbers as a spike is expected after Christmas.
Some sporting facilities in TT are being used to fight covid19.