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Ministry expounds on term of ‘professional athletes’

Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium

.May 19, 2020

Simba French

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It has been just over two weeks since Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that professional athletes can resume their training under the Emergency Powers COVID-19 orders. After calls for clarification, the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture sent out a press release last Thursday that provided the sports community with a clearer picture.

The Bahamas is now in Phase 1b in the reopening of the country in the face of COVID-19. The classification of “professional athletes” as it relates to those being allowed to train, left many unanswered questions.

In the press release, the ministry defined “professional athletes” as athletes currently receiving government subvention, athletes on a professional contract (for example from Nike, Adidas, Puma, etc.) and elite athletes who compete for financial benefit and national team spots.

The release further advises athletes that if they want to use the facilities within the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, they should reach out to the National Sports Authority (NSA) for access.

General Manager of the NSA Quinton Brennen told Nassau Guardian Sports that they are willing to work with the athletes and federations.

“We are committed to the development for the sporting programs in the entire nation. We will continue to work with, create and nurture great relationships with basically all of the federations. No federation is more important than the other,” said Brennen. “The only thing that we are asking in all of this is that everyone play their part. We are making the facilities readily available for use by elite athletes, and asking that the federations get involved in letting us know what the schedules are, who the elite athletes are and things of that sort, so we can manage the process. That is where we are with it.”

Athletes began use of the facilities last week and Brennen expects more traffic this week.

“The swimming community is well on its way,” Brennen said. “They gave us the schedule and they are following it through. We are not allowing more than 10 persons in a particular area at the same time. Even the parents are not allowed to come inside and watch because we are trying to keep it at that 10-person maximum. The parents can come to the facility, but they are asked to stay inside their cars. The NSA has added portable hand sanitizing stations to have the facilities properly and readily available for what is the new normal.”

He admitted that it is a work in progress, and they haven’t gotten everything right as yet but as the world gets into the “new norm”, they are trying to ensure that the athletes are safe. He reiterated that the NSA is fully committed to supporting the federations and seeing how best they can assist in getting the elite athletes and some of the college bound athletes back up to speed or staying in shape heading into competition.

The facilities are opened from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Athletes should contact their federation or association to have scheduled access to the facilities.

According to Brennen, the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium is not yet ready. There is some renovation and remodeling that has to be done before it can reopen as it was used as a national shelter for Hurricane Dorian victims. In the interim, Brennen said the NSA spoke to the Director of Education in the Ministry of Education Marcellus Taylor, who granted permission for basketball players to use public school gymnasiums such as at the A.F. Adderley Junior High School, Anatol Rodgers High School and C.I Gibson Senior High School.

The ministry also reminded the sports community of the importance of the health and safety protocols.

“We also take this opportunity to remind members of the importance of continuing to adhere to the health and safety protocols as published by health professionals; and to stay safe by employing mitigation efforts proven to limit and/or reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” the release stated.

The release added that barring any changes to the reopening plans of the country, all other athletes of every level can resume their normal fitness routines at Phase 4 of the plan.

There is no definite date for when local sporting leagues will restart their respective seasons and activities.

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