Sports activities and competitions can resume on June 1 in Seychelles following the restricting of such activities in mid-March because of COVID-19.
SNA spoke to the chief executive of the National Sports Council (NSC) to find out how the preparation is going for the resumption of sports next month.
SNA: Where is the national sports council on the preparation for the return of sports activities on June 1?
JL: Up to now, we have looked at all the sports facilities and the work needed to be done as per the checklist from the Department of Health. These preparations are very important and we have to ensure that after the work is done, the facilities are clean. We have to prepare all those places well before we can say to the public that we can now start using them.
What I would like people to understand is that there are two things: competition starts as of the 1st June. Since the 13th we started discussing with all federations and we told them that they can train in small groups. Some have started but they say they are not comfortable doing it in small groups. The regulations, however, say you than training can only resume in small groups.
SNA: Have NSC met with federations to ensure that they are ready for when sports resume?
JL: We have asked them to hand in their events calendar and when they are planning to resume. For example, the football federation has already confirmed that competition will start by June 22. Tennis has already communicated that they are starting training on the 25th May. We have not met all of them at the same time because their concerns are different. We are making one to one discussions. We have adopted an open-door policy where associations and federations can talk to us any time.
SNA: One concern expressed by some federations is whether there will be spectators?
JL: This is another requirement of the Department of Health, the WHO and international federations. A federation is responsible to organize competitions so the responsibility for spectators is also for the federation. The sports council only make available facilities for competitions. If they cannot satisfy the criteria set by the Department of Health they will have to organise their competitions without spectators. We see how it is being done abroad and it is the same here. It is difficult to right now fill a stadium and keep the social distancing but if they can satisfy this criterion I don't see why not. But people need to respect that.
SNA: Is the national sports council thinking of using demarcation for the social distancing in their venues?
JL: We have discussed with some federations like volleyball where we said that we can put demarcation using stickers where people can sit. This is something we are working on and is part of our checklist.
SNA: Has the amendment in the national budget affected the NSC's budget?
JL: The revision has only removed the budget for travelling and that is ok because there are no international competitions. We are here as a facilitator and we are here to help federation and we will continue to do so. But even then some federations are readjusting their programme because many things have changed and they will not be able to organise some activities. We are advising that instead of having many activities they should reduce the number of events they can organise.
SNA: With 10 days remaining until sports resume, what advice will you have for federations?
JL: Sports will pick up. We have gone through a bad time and this is normal since there is a lot of things happening. I know many people want to get back on the facilities especially the fitness trail. But what we need to focus on is minimising the risks and the social distancing is very important. I know we are used to just come and sit anywhere and touch anywhere. This is a process and we are learning. We will get through it so give us time to ensure that everything is in order because we resume sports activities.