The issue of when sports would resume has been in the limbo since March 18 when President Yoweri Museveni suspended all social gatherings including sports activities in a bid to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
And with the continued State of the Nation (SON) update addresses on the pandemic continuing to have the word 'sport' agonisingly missing in the President's communication dossier, particularly during the last one on July 21, sports bodies have continuously looked like they're chasing wind.
When cornered with questions on when they thought sports would resume, the administrators have coiled their tails between the legs and literally begged many a journalist to either keep the questions away or not to be quoted. Such a shame!
This has all been in 'fear' of either being misquoted or speaking out of context with the wrath of the law looming large in these tough times.
But they can now all heave a sigh of relief. Looks like the worst of the storm has been ridden after President Museveni took to social media, his Twitter account in particular, to offer a glimmer of hope.
Tweet of hope
"On Covid-19 Pandemic: I welcome the positive suggestions like the idea of sports without audiences that have been tried in other countries of Europe. There are also ideas of isolating the tourism areas that I saw in Cuba. However, all this must be subsidiary to life," read one of a series of tweets the President shared yesterday evening.
In his earlier one before mentioning sports, he had however shown that he will not look away if the set SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) are not kept because of the mere interests and livelihoods of the people.
"Any activity that can be opened safely, with SOPs, will be opened. I am one of the people most interested in the good economic performance. However economic performance should never be more important than lives," read another tweet.
The President's Senior Press Secretary Don Innocent Wanyama echoed what Museveni wrote but warned that the Head of State had not immediately given sports the nod.
"The tweet is legitimate," Wanyama told Daily Monitor. "It doesn't mean that sports has been opened immediately but it is a hint to the sports administrators to initiate discussions with the President on how they will roll out post the pandemic. The President is open for talks but it is the scientists' advice and direction that will offer the final position and decision to be taken by His Excellency."
The SOPs including hand-washing, wearing masks and social distancing among others were formulated in June by Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) and National Council of Sports (NCS) and submitted to the ministries of education and sports, health and Covid-19 National Task Force. And with that submission seemingly have hit a dead end, the President's tweet was welcomed with both hands and it sounded like music to the ears of UOC boss William Blick.
"This is an excellent development and much needed clearance for the sports fraternity. The athletes must start training," said Blick.
Uganda Woodball Federation general secretary Collins Ssemanda added; "We are delighted by such a tweet from H.E. Actually, woodball is a non-contact sport with a very low risk of the Covid-19 effect. We are more than ready to resume and are willing to follow the set guidelines."
Local Rugby CEO Ramsey Olinga, too, chipped in; "We are excited about the positive news. We know sports is a tool that can help the public with mental recovery from the effects of the pandemic. We await further guidance on this matter."
SELECTED HIGH RISK
Football, Rugby, Basketball, Netball, Boxing, Taekwondo
Selected medium risk
Cricket, Chess, Table tennis
Lawn tennis, Badminton
Selected low risk
Golf, Motorsport, Swimming
- Public health hygiene.
- Rubber gloves for team staff.
- Towels for single use.
- Water bottle for each player.
- Isolation/quarantine spaces.
- Routine disinfection of venue
- Medical masks.