‘Nationals’ not impossible, but AAG boss wants safety first

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By Akeem Greene

Though the usual period for the National Schools Cycling, Swimming and Track and Field Championships is November, the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) President, Aubrey Hutson, feels it is not advisable to go ahead with this year’s championship, given athletes’ health may be at risk.

‘Nationals’, as it is commonly called, is the marque school athletic championship organised in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Guyana Teachers’ Union.

The AAG normally conducts the groundwork to ensure that the various rules are applied correctly for Track and Field events.

However, given the situation with COVID-19, Hutson indicated while it is not impossible to host the event, the logistical and safety requirements that will be needed to stage the nationwide showpiece makes it inadvisable.

Athletics Association of Guyana President, Aubrey Hutson

“We would always be in favour of having competitions, but our athletes’ health is very important. So I would not advise it unless we have a clear indication that every athlete in that village is free of COVID and we have a way of separating them from the patrons during the championships,” he explained to News Room Sport on Friday.

He added, “The difficulty is keeping them safe from contracting it or if someone comes within contact with it [COVID-19], how do we detect that and prevent them from infection other people.”

Last year close to 1,600 students and teachers participated in the event. The norm is that students and teachers would use schools as their form of housing for the one-week event.

“The issue does not lie with the competition of itself in terms of what happens on the track or field, but the whole housing of athletes…the way they are normally housed for ‘Nationals’, I think may post a threat unless prior screening is done.”

“The way athletes are housed, they are not in their own rooms, they are clustered together in the schools and I think that may pose a problem. In regards to what happens on the field of play, we can sanitise the pits, batons, we can reduce the amount of lanes which follows the World Athletics guidelines.”

In an invited comment, Brushell Blackman, Head of the Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Education, stated they have not made any decision as yet regarding the annual event, which is in its 60th year.

District 10 (Upper Demerara/Kwakwani) are the current champions after they won a fifth consecutive title last year.

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