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More clarity needed on COVID-19 restrictions on organised sport

The government’s latest restrictions on organised sport have inevitably been met with a degree of disappointment by sportspersons in Malta who have seen their commitments being halted once more due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

While one would agree that the latest restrictions have been introduced to try and stem the rise in COVID-19 cases, which had been reaching alarming numbers, one cannot but comment on the lack of clarity in terms of interpretation which inevitably is causing disagreements among the sporting fraternity.

Reports of people practicing Padel on Monday have inevitably raised a few eyebrows but this confusion has inevitably been stemmed from the lack of clarity that the latest restrictions show.

According to the latest Legal Notice, all organised sport in the country is banned.

However, if two people decide to practice a sport, such as tennis or basketball, and use their own sports equipment, it would not constitute a breach as it would be no different if a group of two people go for a picnic and take a ball to play football.

This ambiguity in interpretation has left many sportspersons shaking their head as there is no clear difference between leisure sports activities and elite athletes who have to continue to train to remain fit.

Why should practising sport under stringent medical protocol be banned while leisure sport should be given the green light?

Before the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions, sport was being successfully organised under a strict medical protocol with the number of coronavirus cases kept at a very low rate.

So, it’s quite difficult to understand why elite sport should not be given the green light to resume in a safe manner as it has never been the real source of alarming rise in COVID-19 cases.

The Public Health decision to give an exemption to the Malta football national team from the latest COVID-19 restrictions is a clear sign that elite sport can still be organised once a stringent medical protocol is put into place.

One has to understand, that for several Maltese athletes 2021 is a very important year, with several sportspersons in Malta looking to win a qualifying berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and surely don’t afford further disruptions in their preparations, provided their training methods are done under a strict protocol.

It is hoped that in the coming weeks, SportMalta venues would be given permission to reopen and sporting activity is resumed under a strict medical protocol as sport is an integral part of the society and the well-being of one and all, not only from a physical point of view but more importantly from a mental side, particularly during a pandemic.

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