Sports sidelined by new regulations

By Michael Uugwanga

ALTHOUGH sports has been given the green light to resume under the amended Covid-19 regulations, the decision by Government to impose two hours on sporting activities has however created more confusion, not only for sports leaders but also for regulators.

Under the new regulations no spectators will be allowed at any sporting events.

On January 13, the Minister of Health and Social Services Dr. Kalumbi Shangula announced the latest amendments of Covid-19 general regulations to the Public and Environmental Health Act, 2015 as effective from January 13 until February 3 2021.

The current regulations will have a negative impact on sport codes such as cricket, tennis, boxing, football, netball, just to mention a few due to the number of hours some codes are being restricted to, lack of sporting facilities and the unavailability of funds.

For example, in cricket a typical T20 game is played over three hours while a 50-Overs match is played over seven hours, in tennis matches duration can range from one hour and in some cases up to five hours.

The sport of boxing in the country is usually carried out in a tournament format which sees more than 16 bouts taking place over duration of six hours in total.

If the current amendments continue once the current regulation elapses, sport codes will need to find a new formula on how to carry out their activities.

Attorney-General, Festus Mbandeka has said that there will be no special treatment extended to sporting activities after saying that sports leaders must come up with new ideas that will incorporate the current regulations.

“The decision is that any type of gathering should end within two hours. I know that some of these questions are practical however the decision is on the organisers of these events (sports) to make sure that there is compliance. As it is now I do not see any exemption regarding sport, so people must look at other modalities,” said Mbandeka.

The Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Agnes Tjongarero when asked if her ministry was consulted regarding the new amendments she said:

“Not that I am aware of any consultations as I was on leave. Maybe my deputy or ED (executive director) was consulted, but if one of them was consulted then neither of them told me about it. Maybe we need to adjust to the new amended regulations. As you just pointed out at some codes such as cricket and golf must come up with something different like playing shorter hours.”

Deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Emma Kantema-Gaomas also said that she was not aware of any consultations, neither was the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) consulted, according to its chief administrator Freddy Mwiya.

Mwiya however urged federations and associations to adhere to the new regulations.

“For example if athletics will have a competition whereby they will have short and long distance track events, what Athletics Namibia will have to do is to have the short distance event from 06H00 to 08H00 and after that have their long distance heat from maybe  11h00 to 13H00.

“We have to be smart as sportspeople as it is just a matter of planning. The problem is that some codes would want to host a big event at once and that is not good since government is trying its best to contain further spread of the virus. All I know is that the Ministry of Sport has a principal officer (deputy minister) on the Covid-19 regulation team,” said Mwiya.

Cricket Namibia CEO Johan Muller has raised concern over the new regulations saying that they will have a negative impact on the sport.

Cricket Namibia is currently preparing the men senior team for the rescheduled International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s T20 World Cup taking place in October 2021 in India.

“To be honest it is a very big concern for us and it will have a negative impact. The NSC has been closed most of December and I am assuming that they only opened recently, because since December we wanted to discuss the way forward. Like T20 we might look at playing for two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon and two hours before midnight. We really need clarification,” said Muller.