Sports

Sports ministry releases its COVID-19 guidelines

Local sporting organizations and leagues finally have a template to work with as it relates to a return to sports in the country.

The Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture has officially released its Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Guidelines, which can be found online via The Bahamas government’s website (bahamas.gov.bs) and on the ministry’s Facebook page (facebook.com/moysc.bah).

As expected, sports as we know it is on hold for the foreseeable future – with or without any lockdown orders imposed by the government of The Bahamas.

A number of sports bodies and leagues were gearing up for the start of their seasons in the fall. However, with The Bahamas currently experiencing an aggressive second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks like further restrictions might have to be imposed. It has already been a major setback for sports in the country, with a number of leagues and associations having to postpone their seasons or cancel them altogether.

Sports has basically been at a standstill since the pandemic reached The Bahamas in mid-March. There was a semblance of hope after the initial contamination phase, but a spike in cases was experienced after The Bahamas opened its orders, thereby creating a further setback of sporting events in the country.

Individuals can still train locally, barring any further setback from national lockdown orders, but competitive play in all sports is on hold.

The ministry highlighted various protocols in its COVID-19 guidelines.

For instance, in tennis, it is stated that masks should be worn at all times when a player or players are off the court; sharing tennis rackets will not be allowed; only four athletes are allowed on a court at any one time for doubles play or coaching sessions; pre-registration is required at the club house prior to starting a practice session; and only two persons are allowed on either side of the practice wall.

In soccer, for national team training purposes, there should be a maintenance of 15 feet between each player; equipment and water bottles are not to be shared; contact between players is prohibited; only players and coaching staff are permitted to enter the facility (no visitors or guests allowed); restrooms/locker rooms are to be sanitized before, during and after training sessions; and competition is not recommended at this time.

In basketball, masks are required to enter a training facility; only individual ball handling and shooting drills are permitted during training sessions; players are asked to maintain minimum six to 10 feet distance between themselves during a session; water bottles are for personal use only; training schedules will be from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and athletes will be responsible for ensuring their own personal sanitation.

In rugby, players are required to wash or sanitize hands before and after each training session; each player must bring his or her own water bottle; pre-registration is required at the club house for all coaches and athletes; wearing a mask is mandatory; a minimum of six feet physical distancing between individuals must be maintained; and players must not touch ground equipment.

All activities in all other team sports should be prohibited during this time, and swimming pool facilities should be closed until permission is granted for them to open by the Ministry of Health. Also, all gyms should be closed until permission is granted for them to reopen.

Additionally, the ministry is advising all athletes, coaches and sports personnel to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching their eyes, noses and mouths; avoid close contact with others; clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily; and monitor their health daily.

Handshakes, chest bumps, high fives and other celebratory forms of physical contact are not allowed, and if an athlete presents any symptoms of COVID-19, participation in activities is strictly forbidden and that particular athlete should return home and seek medical advice.

The ministry stated that the safety measures and protocols are recommended by the Ministry of Health and government officials to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and for the safety of all Bahamians.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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