The National Council of Sports (NCS) has challenged 51 federations entrusted to its care to step up to the plate as competitive sport looks to emerge from the fog of the coronavirus pandemic.
The sports sub-sector has been hit uniquely hard with a pause in activity since 18 March. While Uganda has recently witnessed a loosening of restrictive measures, competitive sport has remained under lock and key.
Government has ruled out giving the green light before it has the virus fully under control. Fears have been expressed that the virus might flare up in dense places where people are crammed together. Most sports disciplines work up an atmosphere representative of such density.
NCS general secretary, Patrick Bernard Ogwel, says “at an appropriate time, government will be able to reopen [the sports sub-sector].”
He further adds that sports federations have to “ensure that they address themselves to safety mechanisms and use acceptable equipment.”
Ogwel made the comment while speaking to NTV Uganda after NCS released a nearly 20-page document titled, “Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the resumption of sports, recreation and physical activity in Uganda.” The document will serve as a bedrock upon which sports activities will be given the all-clear to emerge from lockdown.
First, though, the document has to get clearance from relevant authorities like the national Covid-19 task force as well as the health and education/sports ministries. Ogwel says sports federations will only be cleared when they “show cause of maintenance and also ensur[e] that all issues raised in the document have been addressed.” He adds, rather apocalyptically: “without presentation of the SOPs, I can assure you that no sports activity will be able to take place.”
The SOPs unsurprisingly proffer medical guidelines and strict instructions on social distancing. They set ground rules for organising a sporting event. These include routine disinfection of the venue where an event is to be staged, securing isolation/quarantine space[s] for positive cases as well as having medical masks readily available. The masks are to be used by those that access the venue for the said event. Towels for single use are recommended and participants in the event are to each be provided with a clean water bottle.
The authors of the document were also inclined to make three risks categorisations of sports activities. The classification includes low risk sports, medium or moderate risk sports and higher risk sports. A dozen sporting disciplines, including football, rugby, basketball, netball, and boxing, have been classified as high-risk. The medium risk sports total 20 and include, among others, cricket, tennis, and volleyball. The low risk sports are 18, with golf, motorsport, swimming, and athletics inclusive.
SELECTED HIGH RISK
Football, Rugby, Basketball, Netball, Boxing, Taekwondo
Selected low risk
Golf, Motorsport, Swimming
Selected medium risk
Cricket, Chess, Table tennis
Lawn tennis, Badminton
event organisers POINTERS
• Public health hygiene.
• Rubber gloves for team staff.
• Towels for single use.
• Water bottle for each player
• Isolation or quarantine spaces
• Routine disinfection of venue
• Medical masks