Government opens competitive sports & pleads for good conduct amidst Covid-19

Botswana Government yesterday (Tuesday) took a decision to lift the suspension of Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) affiliated sporting activities that were stopped more than a year ago due to the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic worldwide.  The 14-months sporting hiatus was a measure by Government to mitigate the transmission and spread of the deadly Corona virus. 

When addressing the media yesterday in Gaborone, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare said, “The measures included suspension of all sporting and recreational activities, prohibition of gatherings and restricting movement of people. As a result, the suspension of sporting activities, athletes and teams could not train, hence their level of competitiveness is bound to be low when the suspension is ultimately lifted. MYSC is working with the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Task Force to ensure safe return of sport. We are optimistic that we will soon find a safe way to return to sport. 

It is therefore critical that when the suspension is ultimately lifted, we conduct ourselves in accordance with the conditions that have been set to allow us to return to play. I have noted with concern that in the past some individuals and clubs/teams conducted themselves in an unacceptable manner. This cannot be tolerated,” said Rakgare. However, Rakgare said recreational sporting activities will remain suspended until the health authorities advise otherwise, and that it is safe to have recreational sports resume. 

Furthermore, the minister noted that preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are going well. “I can assure you that as part of the protocols, the team and officials will be vaccinated before they leave for Japan. We are working closely with the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and soon they will be vaccinated. The Government continues to monitor the Covid-19 numbers and I encourage all of us to continue following the protocols as outlined by the Task Team,” concluded Rakgare.

Following Rakgare’s media briefing, the Government Gazette was issued in the evening narrating the conditions of the lifting of sports ban. Issued under the signatory of the Director of Health Services, Dr. Malebogo Kebabonye and with authority given by President Dr. Mokgweetsi Masisi, in accordance with regulation 30G of emergency powers regulations 2020, some of the regulations are a person in attendance at a sports facility shall:

(i) be provided by the host with clean water and soap to wash their hands or with hand sanitiser throughout the duration of the activity,

(ii) wear a face mask or homemade item that covers the nose and mouth or another appropriate item that covers the nose and mouth, where the person is not a participant of the activity, and

(iii) observe the social distancing requirements of being at least 2 metres apart from each other.

(b) a sports facility may host authorised sports daily where there shall not be more than 50 participants and 50 officials at any given time.

(c) spectators are prohibited from attending competitive sporting activities;

(d) alcohol shall not be sold or consumed at the facility during a sporting activity;

(e) water bottles and hydration containers shall not be shared by participants;

(f) daily disinfection of sporting facility and equipment shall take place where sporting activities are carried out, under the supervision of the Director of Health Services;

(g) a sports host shall facilitate a minimum of a 30 minute break every 2 hours during a sport activity which is held indoors, to allow for ventilation of the facilities;

(h) a sporting activity host shall appoint a SHE officer for every activity;

(i) an adult shall supervise all junior competitive sporting activities;

(j) a sports facility shall be closed, upon direction of the Director of Health Services, where there is a reasonable suspicion that a person who has accessed the premises has come into contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 or that a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 has had access to the premises;

(k) the checking of body temperature of all persons in attendance of a sports facility is carried out by the host, and where the person’s body temperature is 37.4 degrees celsius and above, such person shall not be allowed to access the sports facility, and the person shall be referred to the Director of Health Services;

(l) a sports host shall maintain a register containing the personal details and contact details of all persons accessing the sports facility;

(m) the register referred to in paragraph (l) shall be open for inspection by the Director of Health Services for the purposes of contact tracing, and shall be open for inspection by any law enforcement officer for the investigation of an offence under the Regulations; and

(n) a sports host shall surrender the register to the Director of Health Services, within 30 days from the date of such sporting activity being held.

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