Hope at last for sports resumption as Ministry releases draft protocols

Hope at last for sports resumption as Ministry releases draft protocols

Sports Cabinet Secretary Ambassador Amina Mohammed Monday morning released draft guidelines in a detailed report on sports resumption in the country, subject to further review before the final directions are outlined.

Stakeholders will have a window of seven days to give their views on the report by the CAS Hassan Noor Hassan led committee, before the Ministry puts together the final protocols.

Importantly, sports organisations and federations will have to appoint committees to champion the implementation of the proposals, with stakeholders calling for special attention to the return of national teams to training depending on specific disciplines’ international calendars.

Amina tasked the committee in June to report to her on the formula to open sports activities, put to a halt since mid March following the first incidence of COVID-19 in Kenya.

From the 26-page report, the resumption of sports activities will take place in each six sets put in three distinct phases.

The first phase will see athletes’ tests followed by the second stage where the players will be required to resume training individually for seven days before training in small groups for a week, paving way for the third and last where collective training will be allowed.

While some disciplines categorised as high risk may need more caution, the non-contact sports including athletics, cricket, weightlifting, shooting, volleyball among others are set to be among the first to resume.

Football, hockey, handball and basketball are some of the low risk sports that the report has considered for reopening but with strict covid-19 restrictions in place.

Contact disciplines such as swimming, boxing, judo, karate, wrestling, rugby and taekwondo could take longer as the Covid-19 situation in the country continues to be monitored, according to the report.

Responsibility will be on organisations and federations to ensure all teams under their umbrella strictly adhere to the protocols failure to which heavy sanctions shall be imposed on them, including deregistration.

Amina said the delay in releasing the report was occasioned by the need for thorough scrutiny of the evolving trends of the pandemic and wide consultations.

“I’m aware that stakeholders have been waiting eagerly for the release of these guidelines by our Ministry. Due to the nature of the pandemic it was imperative to take delicate diligent process to satisfy the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation of the same…” noted the CS.

Breaking down the proposed protocols, Walter Ongeti, an advisor in the Ministry, underlined the measures taken are not necessarily similar to what has been done in countries that have resumed sports.

“We are taking into consideration our solutions uniquely cut out of our procedures in Kenya,” he said, underscoring Amina’s statement that reviews will have to be made from time to time depending on the situation in the country.

A call to speed up the return of national teams to training has been made by cricket coach Peter Ongondo, saying international revised calendars for various disciplines are already out.

“If we have an international event for example in October and our players are not training at the moment, we will be caught napping,” he said.

Ongondo also wants the Ministry of Sports to aid clubs in testing of staff once the exercise kicks off, saying most teams are financially hit and may not meet the cost.

After the seven days of public participation, the Ministry will take a further seven days to integrate their views in the final report paving way for reopening.