There could be some smiles at long last on the faces of many sportsmen and women in Uganda after President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni announced the return of sports, for the time being without fans.
Addressing the nation in a widely televised address on Sunday, 21st September 2020, President Museveni announced that sports activities in open air venues will be allowed to take place without spectators.
He however imposed conditions that sports men and women will have to be tested every fortnight.
Indoor sports activities will however remain restricted with worries about potential increase in COVID-19 spread.
Since 18th March 2020, sports was among the banned activities as the president put a ban on all sorts of public gatherings to mitigate the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
Henceforth, sportsmen resorted to personal training sessions within the confines of their home environs and many indoors.
Since the gyms and health clubs were closed and still remain under lock, many sportsmen followed online sessions to keep fit whilst others jogged on the roads and in open fields.
There is some excitement with the latest announcement that sees the return of sports.
Many sports associations, federations and individuals had already streamlined strategies and mechanisms of how they will resume business once given the greenlight.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP’s) recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health have been proposed to the followed to the dot.
Testing of athletes samples, temperature check-ups, regular hand washing, wearing of masks, sanitizing and social distancing among others are being emphasized as often as possible.
Already the National Council of Sports (NCS) together with the Ministry of Health had also emphasized the SOP’s upon the safe return of sports.
It is therefore incumbent the respective sports associations to police and enforce these regulations to the dot.
Testing of the athletes will be a key strategy that should be respected although cost effective.
Constant measuring of temperature, wearing of masks and other protective gear, regular sanitizing and hand washing, social distancing among other means ought to be followed to the dot.
Uganda Golf Union (UGU) is one of the 52 sports bodies duly registered by the National Council of Sports that fronted clear guidelines of how they intended for a safe return.
Golfers steadily returned to the courses given the natural social distancing etiquette of this sport.
UGU will go ahead and organize a few tournaments before the year winds down with emphasis on the signature Uganda Open at Uganda Golf Club in Kampala.
Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA), Uganda Rugby Union, Uganda Cricket Association and other sports bodies are more than eager to follow the set guidelines and return to action.
Buganda Kingdom, organizes of the annual Masaza Cup and Kabaka Birthday run have also planned for the safe return of sports.
“We urged the counties to show a clear plan of safe guarding their players, collaborating with Health Center IV’s for effective testing as well as lobbying for support from elsewhere to supplement on the income of the sponsors” Sulaiman Ssejjengo, chairman of the Buganda Masaza Cup football organizing team notes.
In the coming days, the Masaza cup organizing committee will be expected to come up with the latest development as regards the 2019 tournament in relation to the format of play and further regulations given to the 18 Masaza teams.
Obviously, for the time being without fans, sports can return to the sphere as the rusty athletes and thirty fans are keen and willing to go.
As sports returns, there is need to take precaution and utmost care to avoid acts that would precipitate the spread of the Coronavirus.
After all, safety of life remains a key concern and top priority at all times.
The SOP’s should be respected and adhered to all times as the earlier restrictions on sports have been eased.
Slowly by slowly, there will be complete return to normalcy, like before.
By Monday, 21st September 2020, Uganda had recorded a total of 6287 cases, 2616 recoveries with 63 deaths.
In the whole world, there are 31,216,861 total cases, 22,811,677 recoveries and sadly, 964,724 people have lost their dear lives.