After spending almost three months under a blanket moratorium as a result of the widespread Covid-19 pandemic, contact sports activities and other large social events will be allowed to return under stage 4 of the government’s Covid-19 emergency response program, President Hage Geingob announced yesterday.
Providing an update to the nation during a live-streamed presser from State House, Geingob and his Cabinet team, which also included health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula and various relevant stakeholders, announced that 13 of the country’s 14 regions will on 29 June at 23:59 migrate from stage 3 to stage 4 of the Covid-19 emergency response plan, and will remain in stage 4 until 17 September 2020. With the other 13 regions all migrating to stage 4, the Erongo region will be the only region not migrating to stage 4 but will instead migrate from the current stage 1 to stage 3. The region’s migration to stage 3 was effected at midnight yesterday.
The Erongo region, which is Namibia’s biggest coastline economic hub, has been hard hit by the pandemic and has so far recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the country. As of yesterday morning, it was announced that eight new positive cases were recorded in Walvis and Swakopmund, taking the country’s total tally of confirmed positive cases to 63.
It was further announced that Erongo will remain in stage 3 until 6 July, marking a period of 14 days or one-incubation cycle.
The migration of the other 13 regions to stage 4 equally marks the gradual return of contact sport codes, such as football, rugby, boxing, hockey and many other team sports as categorised. The return of contact sports is permitted to a total of 250 persons in attendance and events should be conducted under strict health and hygiene protocols as earlier announced.
Until yesterday’s announcement, only non-contact sports were allowed to resume training and also host events under strict health guidelines as stipulated by the health ministry.
Earlier last month, the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) in consultation with the line ministry, gave the green light to non-contact sports such as darts, cricket, swimming, tennis, squash, athletics, archery, chess, cricket, cycling, swimming, golf, gymnastics and motorsport to resume training and gradually start staging events. Welcoming the return of contact sports as part of stage 4, Namibia’s leading boxing promoter Nestor Tobias yesterday expressed lukewarm emotions, saying the opening of contact sport codes is a sign of progress on the side of government’s efforts to combat the pandemic but warned that sport administrators should not get excited and become reckless.
Tobias advised that the return of contact sports should rather serve as an opportunity for sport administrators to reflect and plan smartly on how to move forward bearing all health and safety regulations in mind.
“Well, it’s a bit of a relieve but there isn’t really nothing much to celebrate, because we should still follow all health protocols such as social distancing, washing of hands and wearing our masks at all times. Now that means we have to find new safe ways on how to conduct training in large groups in line with all health measures. I also think the return of contact sports gives us all an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and plan smartly without risking the lives of athletes. We should not get excited and become reckless. We should remain disciplined and follow all health regulations. In countries like the US, boxing has already taken off behind closed doors and promoters are not suffering that much because they can rely on TV rights revenue, but here the situation is different because there is no income from TV rights and gate takings are also not that much. That’s why we now have to plan smart going forward,” said Tobias, a revered multiple award-winning boxing promoter. -email@example.com