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Sports Should Hope For The Best But Expect The Worst

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COVID-19 has been a damper on all our plans after a lockdown was imposed in March this year as a preventative measure by the government of Uganda to curb the spread of the pandemic.

In March, lots of sectors like sports, transport, tourism, schools, hotels, entertainment and recreation, worship centers and others were put to a halt even before the nation had confirmed her first Covid-19 case.

However, later on, some sectors were gradually re-opened but with SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in place as the government tried to avert harsh economic implications of the lockdown but also keeping the health of the citizens in check.

However, ‘crowd pulling’ sectors like sports, schools, worship centers, bars and night clubs are still on shut down with government claiming that it is not yet safe to reinstate them.

However, there has been a recent spike of cases especially in the Capital Kampala. By press time, Uganda had a cumulative total of 2,263 cases, 1,226 recoveries and 20 deaths.

However, recent reports indicate that there is a looming lockdown set to be imposed by government again following the sharp rise of cases in the past few days.

A few Ministers have been preaching about a new lockdown and with President Yoweri Museveni set to address the nation this week, sports and other sectors still on shut down can only hope for the best but expect the worst.

Public transport, arcades and the like are reportedly set to be shut down again while the sectors which are yet to be reinstated will continue that way.

However, in his recent segmented social media missive to the nation in response to various issues especially in regard to the COVID-19 economic impact, post-lockdown ‘new normal’ and continued shutdown of some sectors like sports, plus other national issues, President Museveni dropped a hint that sports could resume very soon.

“I welcome other positive suggestions like the idea of sports without audiences that have been tried in other countries of Europe,” President Museveni noted in one of the segments of his missive.

However, just like other sectors that were reinstated after being shut down for a while, sports too, if reinstated is expected to follow SOPs to curb the spread of the pandemic.

However, with the recent increases in cases, President Museveni could easily make a U-turn on his recent sports return hint and refuse to loosen the noose on competitive play.

However, about two months ago, sports started a ‘long walk back to life’ when National Council of Sports (NCS) guided it’s 51 member federations/associations/unions on drafting SOPs to follow in the post-lockdown era.

NCS later submitted  SOPs to the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Ministry of Health (MoH) and the COVID-19 National Task Force in a bid to secure a green light to reinstate play, but no fruits have been yielded.

Some federations even took bold steps to engage top government officials in matters regarding sports resumption. For instance, FUFA officials met Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to find ways of reinstating games.

All federations/associations/unions have drafted and adopted SOPs to be used in the post-lockdown age and there is no doubt that time is ripe to reinstate games, especially low-risk sports like golf, tennis, cricket and the like.

Some federations have even set timelines for return of competitive play. For example FUFA (Federation of Uganda Football Associations) says they will return on October 17th this year, UVF (Uganda Volleyball Federation) is targeting a September return, UGU (Uganda Golf Union) is targeting November in line with the Magical Kenya Open, and so on.

However, some federations have set sight on given events for example FUBA (Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations) will host Afro Basketball event in November in Kampala while FUFA has continental engagements for national teams. It will be interesting to see how government goes about this but this might be for the common good of the entire sports fraternity as it may trigger sports return, if not reinstated by then.

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