Kampala, Uganda |URN | The National Council of Sports (NCS) has issued Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) guiding on the recommended minimum requirements that competition organizers and participants should consider if the Government of Uganda okays resumption of sports activities.
World over, the sports industry is one of the areas that were greatly affected by the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease which saw several events, competitions and activities were canceled or postponed.
However, there has been an urge to resume or kickoff the events under strict guidelines following aspects like social distancing, regular checkups and playing behind closed doors.
Dr. Donald Rukare, the chairperson of NCS says although sports activities are yet to get clearance to restart, they wanted to act proactively and also show the authorities how ready they are but also assuring safety and health of all people involved in different games.
The NCS General Secretary Dr. Patrick Bernard Ogwel notes that while developing the guidelines, the council has made risk categorization of sports activities based on transmission risk determined by social distancing capability, the number of players involved, nature of facilities, ventilation of facilities, level of physical contact, equipment use and attendance of fans.
There are three categories; low, medium and high-risk sports. Low-risk sports are said to be activities that can be conducted with social distancing, individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors.
This area has a total of eighteen activities including; athletics, motorsport, swimming and golf among others. According to Dr. Ogwel, the council has recommended that activities in this category can be allowed to restart soon than later.
“We think that they don’t present many risks. As the ban is to be lifted, we think sports activities also need to restart and can be done gradually starting with low-risk sports moving forward,” he stresses. He said golf has been allowed by the state to restart and motorsport is also being considered.
There are also medium category sports that involve sustained close contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants, intermittent close contact or group sports or sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants. This category has gymnastics, lawn tennis, weightlifting, hockey, badminton, chess among others.
In the third category are higher-risk sports that involve close, sustained contact between participants, a lack of significant protective barriers and a high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants like football, baseball, netball, rugby among others.
Dr. Ogwel shares that when the government allows sports activities to be staged, they expect each federation or association to also develop specific Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are unique to the individual sports.
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Some of the general requirements put in place before sports activities can resume include availability of hand-washing sanitizers on numerous points at a given sports facility, putting in place signage of hygiene facilities, providing first aid and designated medical services that can trace for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
In the same development, Ogwel notes that although several federations have been requesting for sports relief funds, currently the council doesn’t have funds to this effect but they have initiated discussion with the government to offer support where necessary more so in providing personal protective gears.
Sports is one of the fast-developing industries in Uganda employing tens of thousands both directly and indirectly. In recent years, the industry has been moving in the right truck attacking investments. However, there are fears that the pandemic will greatly harm the sector which largely depends on supporters who may for long not be allowed to be part of different games.