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Covid-19 regulations "not meant to punish"

2021-06-01  Otniel Hembapu

Covid-19 regulations "not meant to punish"
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Deputy sports minister Emma Kantema-Gaomas says the recently amended Covid-19 regulations and safety protocols are not meant to punish or disadvantage anyone.

She said the regulations are rather strictly aimed at safeguarding the lives of all Namibians against the deadly coronavirus.

Last Friday, health minister Kalumbi Shangula announced amendments to the government’s existing Covid-19 regulations and safety protocols, which include the ceasing of all contact sports, and the reduction of spectators from 100 to 50 per event.

Football, netball, boxing, rugby, hockey, cricket, basketball, volleyball and wrestling are some of the contact sports that have been affected by new government regulations, which officially come into effect today and will lapse on 30 June.

“At all material times, the health of the nation must come first. The regulations are not meant to be permanent. They are a response to the current 
variant,” said Kantema-Gaomas.

She maintained that sport administrators should not view the new regulations as a form of punishment to contact sports, but should be viewed as part of government’s ongoing efforts of trying to save the lives of all Namibians, including those in the sporting fraternity.

“We are aware of the concerns raised by the contact sports fraternity. As we speak, we are in direct consultation with the health ministry, and any amendments to the current regulations will be communicated by the health ministry in line with the applicable statutory regulations,” explained Kantema-Gaomas.

There has been a huge spike in the number of Covid-19 cases recorded over the last few weeks.

As of yesterday morning, Namibia was dealing with 3 923 active Covid-19 cases, and almost 850 coronavirus related deaths have so far been recorded countrywide. 

Yesterday, the Namibia Football Association (NFA) and the Netball Namibia (NN) aired their displeasure with the banning of contact sports by government, saying the move has put their leagues and various planned competitions in jeopardy.

NFA secretary general, Franco Cosmos, said the association has asked for audience with the line ministry and other stakeholders with the hope of finding a way to allow football to continue.

“We have the transitional season underway and its very advanced, and we also have the MTC NFA Cup that has progressed. It will be a blow for the projects and the players if we have to stop now. Therefore, we are engaging government to see what possible solution can we have, mindful of the seriousness of Covid-19,” said Cosmos.

In a statement yesterday, NN said it has suspended all regional leagues and local tournaments until further notice; training and competitions alike. 

The month of June had promised to be one for Namibia’s premier international events such as the Debmarine Namibia-sponsored Pent Series tournament, which was scheduled for 23-30 June 2021. 

“The board of Netball Namibia is currently engaging the ministry through our relevant stakeholders. The Pent Series invited countries such as Zambia, Zimbabwe and Kenya have been kept abreast about the sudden developments in our country, and are equally hopeful that with a guaranteed safe sport environment, Namibia will be permitted to host this event. “Netball Namibia will soon be starting a jab campaign for all netballers in order to minimise the risk of infection amongst all participants. Invited countries have also been encouraged to do the
same in their countries,” read the statement.

2021-06-01  Otniel Hembapu

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