BELIZE CITY, Fri. Apr. 16, 2021– Athletes took to social media in near outrage last week when the new Covid-19 regulations were released by the Government of Belize. Casinos were reopened, while no amendments were made to relax the restrictions imposed on various sporting activities.
“My fellow athletes, let’s all show up to the casino in our national team or club jerseys with a cigar for the reopening, and since we can only be together as a team at the casino around the gambling table, why not play some poker.” This was the Facebook post made by Bryton Codd, a member of the National Volleyball Team, which led to a joint press conference with four sporting associations and an ultimate reaction from the Minister of Sports, Hon. Kevin Bernard.
On Friday, April 16, members of the volleyball, basketball, Brazilian jujitsu, and softball associations issued a joint call for the reopening of at least training in their respective disciplines.
During the press conference, Codd told local media that athletes have suffered in many ways since the start of the pandemic, and this has affected both their game and everyday life tremendously.
“It is no secret that we have merely been surviving throughout the time span of this pandemic. Like all others we must return to thriving, whether that is by means of getting our athletes vaccinated or allowing us to train with strict health protocols and regulations,” he told local media.
For the Government’s part, Minister Kevin Bernard said that they have received various proposed protocols for reopening different sporting disciplines from the various athletic associations. He told local media that at this time, his Ministry has already drafted and will present on April 20 a Cabinet paper for the resumption of some sporting activities in the country.
The Minister shared, “I, for one, and I know I have the support of many others agree, that we must bring back some level of sports in the area of training. It’s also part of Health and Wellness.”
He shared that while contact sports may be the most difficult to reintroduce, he believes that there are ways in which athletes can participate in those sports in a non-contact form for training purposes. He said that his Ministry was waiting on the approval from the Cabinet before they made a formal announcement.
According to Hon. Bernard, his Ministry currently has a top 10 list that they will review, inclusive of golfing and rugby. Guidelines will be put in place to carry out a phased reopening until sporting activities can fully resume, said Minister Bernard.
“I know it’s going to take some time, but I ask our athletes, and I thank them for their patience because I know every time the regulations are changed it is focused mainly on the health issue,” Hon. Bernard told the media.