We are ready to resume sporting activities-Dr Chitepo

Staff Reporter

The Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Ministry says it is now ready to resume sport and recreation activities in the country during this covid-19 pandemic.

This was revealed by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Dr Thokozile Chitepo yesterday while briefing the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation on the Ministry’s preparedness to resume sporting activities in the country in light of theCovid-19 pandemic.

“Honourable Chair, regarding the Ministry’s preparedness to resume sporting activities in the country in light of Covid-19 pandemic, allow me to state that the Ministry and its Parastatals are ready and prepared for the resumption of sport and recreation activities during this pandemic,” said Dr Chitepo.

Dr Chitepo however said the onus of ensuring the safe and secure resumption of activities rests on National Sport Association and delivery agencies providing appropriate protocols and considerations for their approval. She said application for approval shall be accompanied by applicant’s proposed Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). Approval of proposed protocols is conditional upon their satisfying WHO guidelines, specific International Federation guidelines and Ministry of Health guidelines, as may be reviewed from time to time.

On 2 March 2021, Cabinet approved only the low risk sporting codes which include Aquatics, Golf, Tennis, swimming among others. These low risk sporting code were approved following a submission through Cabinet for the resumption of all proposed sporting disciplines.

Football has been designated as a high risk sport code, a high risk sport code is where there is reasonable frequency of testing, not more than 14 days apart and stringent appropriate Covid-19 containment protocols.

According to Dr Chitepo, the Ministry, through parastatals has evoked the establishment of medical committee in National Sport Association and all sport delivery agencies. The setting up of medical committees at the lower rung of the sport and recreation delivery pyramid is aimed at managing Covid-19 risk factors at the lower level.

The Permanent Secretary highlighted that the Ministry and its Parastatals have  made it mandatory that prior to the resumption of sport in the country, athletes and athlete support staff should be tested before partaking any activity adding that it also applied to athletes and officials representing Zimbabwe at regional, continental and international activities. On that note a test distribution plan should be submitted to the Ministry through Parastatals of athletes and officials to be involved in the activities of the NSA. She said clearances of the teams representing the country have a requirement for athletes and support staff to have negative results of Covid19 for the entire entourage.

Dr Chitepo said the Ministry is lobbying the National covid-19 taskforce for athletes and officials to be given priority on the National vaccination programme. Same revealed that the Ministry and its parastatals have set afoot plans to disseminate information and communicate education and capacity development programmes for a sport and recreation fraternity to ensure informed and guided responses to the covid-19 pandemic. The Capacity Development will focus on inculcating knowledge and disbanding myths on the covid-19 pandemic as well as control measures that had been put in place to curtail it.

Since the inception of National lockdown in March last year due to the ravaging effects of the covid-19 pandemic, there has not been a steady and continuous implementation and delivery on sport and recreation facilities in the country.