The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis. Since its outbreak towards the end of last year, it has had negative effects on societies and economies at their core.
Sports too was never spared with several events, competitions and activities cancelled/postponed worldwide.
Whereas there is hope of resumption for some sports activities, this has been done under strict guidelines with the new normal procedures followed that is; social distancing, regular checkups and playing behind closed doors.
The sports industry in Uganda is also working towards this and the National Council of Sports (NCS) on Monday released the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that federations/associations must follow in order for their activities to resume
During an online meeting, NCS General Secretary Bernard Patrick Ogwel indicated that they are working closely with the Ministry of Health to see that sports activities resume.
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“There has been partial lifting of the lockdown and some sectors of the economy have re-opened. We also believe that if we observe the guidelines put in place, sports activities can resume. As Council, we engaged federations for their input and how best they can restart and it is from those ideas that we have come up with a document to guide us,” he said.
These guidelines are intended to guide and support competition organizers in the implementation of the health and safety measures at their events once the government, security and health authorities have given the green light the staging of the competitions.
NCS categorized sports disciplines in three classes depending on the level of contact between the athletes. These were as follows;
Archery, Canoe- Kayak, Cycling, Darts, Dragon boating, Fencing, Roll ball, Ultimate Frisbee, Goalball, Athletics, Golf, Motorsport, Pool, Rowing, Swimming, Skating, Zukanneh
Baseball and Softball, Floorball, Deaf Sports, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Lawn bowls, Sports Climbing, Squash, Weightlifting, Hockey, Cricket, Chess, Scrabble, Table tennis, VX, Ludo, Lawn tennis, Badminton, Draughts, Volleyball
Basketball, Boxing, Handball, Judo, Kabaddi, Kickboxing, Netball, Rugby, Soccer/Football, Taekwondo, Wrestling,
Some of the requirements put in place before sports activities can resume is the availability of hand-washing gel/ sanitizers on numerous points at a given sports facility, putting in place signage of hygiene facilities at stadiums, training facilities and changing rooms, providing first aid and designated medical services that can trace for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
Additionally, it was agreed in the document that each venue must have temperature guns.
Ogwel stated that NCS is in talks with government to offer support where necessary because some of the requirements come with financial demands.
“We know there is a challenge that if we are to resume, it must come at cost. Where possible, federations will foot these bills but we are also talking to government for support in some areas such as providing testing kits and the PPEs.”
Whereas the guidelines were offered, the exact date of resumption of sports activates was not confirmed because NCS is still in talks with the Ministry of Health and government on how best the set measures can be observed.