Sporting calendar thrown into uncertainty once again
The immediate sporting calendar has once again been thrown into doubt after tougher Covid-19 restrictions were implemented by the Government on Saturday.
In the wake of a recent spike in positive cases, a number of new rules have been introduced in an attempt to halt the spread of the deadlier UK variant of the virus.
Among them, the number of people allowed at gatherings will be cut to ten from 25 with all increased restrictions in force for at least three weeks.
The move comes as a significant to sport, with many edging towards a full return to action within the Government’s Return to Play initiative, which for most was in its penultimate phase of a four-stage plan.
One sport that was immediately affected was cycling as the start to the Bermuda Bicycle Association’s road racing season was halted with the postponement of the KPMG Team Time-Trial yesterday.
While the association’s president, Peter Dunne, admitted the race could have been staged within the new regulations, he was left to bemoan a huge step backwards for the sporting community.
“I’m really disappointed not only for cycling but the whole sporting community at this stage,” he said.
“We were deep into government’s Return to Play initiative and now we have taken a giant step backwards. I fully understand that public health has to come first and I’ve always been an advocate of that, but it feels like sport is being punished for the mistakes of others within the community.
“Our race could have been compliant with all the regulations and rules, but we felt it could have looked bad if people saw the riders near one another at a point in the race.
“They would have been racing in intervals, but we felt it wasn’t worth the risk of how the optics may have looked to people out in public at the time.
“We had no official discussions with the ministry to tell us to postpone; we took the decision because it wasn’t worth the risk so late prior to the event.”
As well as a disruption to sport once again, the new restrictions have also brought about a return to uncertainty surrounding the Return to Play guidance and a perceived lack of distinguishment between separate sports, whether or not they involve contact.
Another non-contact sport to be affected is swimming, with activity at the National Sports Centre shut down because of the restrictions.
As well as the issues surrounding distinguishing the different sports, Dunne has also raised concerns regarding the possibility of qualifying for and staging big events in the near future as a result of the step backwards in progression.
“We were happy with how the Return to Play initiative was going and moving forward, but now it feels like all sports have been clumped in together when we had a separation between contact and non-contact sports,” he added.
“It definitely feels like a step backwards to December time of last year where loads of sporting events were being postponed.
“There are some major events coming up like the Youth Pan American Games in June and Carifta. How are our young athletes supposed to qualify when they can’t compete?
“I don’t see with how things are again that we can look ahead to events like May 24 and Cup Match. How can you go from gatherings of 10 to 25, then to thousands in a short space of time?
“There isn’t an obvious gradual incline to reach those numbers unless everyone has been vaccinated. How can anyone look that far ahead and think those events will run as people hope they will?
“As an association, we have future events planned but we will have to think about what we do going forward.
“We’ve always been compliant with the rules in place and I’m sure if the ministry or health department saw what we were doing, they would have been more than happy. However, we are back to a stage of not knowing where we stand again.”