ATTN: SPORTS EDITORS
RE: RESUMPTION OF SPORTING ACTIVITIES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC REVISED GUIDELINES
In March 2020, the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage called for cessation of sports competitions and group sports activities in the country following the report of the initial positive cases of COVID-19 in Kenya. Indeed, the sporting world came to a standstill with various major international competitions either put on hold, suspended, or cancelled altogether as the coronavirus continued to ravage the globe.
All global events were suspended at that time including the world’s greatest sporting showcase – the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games– initially scheduled to commence on July 24,
2020. In Kenya, three major global sports events were postponed: FIA/WRC Safari Rally Kenya, the World Athletics Under-20 Championships and the Magical Kenya Open Golf Championship.
On June 30, 2020, I appointed the Resumption of Sports Advisory Committee to draw protocols for the resumption of sporting activities in Kenya following the Covid-19 pandemic. In close consultation with my colleague Cabinet Secretary for Health Hon. Mutahi Kagwe, I launched the guidelines in September 2020 with addendums to the Guidelines released in November and December 2020.
These Protocols guided the resumption of play with strict adherence. Since then, we have held various sporting events, facilitated athletes to travel for various international championships including Olympic and Paralympic games qualifiers, vaccinated over 5,000 athletes, athlete handlers and officials. We have also engaged medical personnel locally and exposed our doctors to international events to learn and implement the new way of delivering sports globally. It is these lessons and insights that have enriched this revision in tandem with the Directions of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta on 1st May 2021.
The revised guidelines place more emphasis on athlete safety, containment measures, vaccination and travel guidelines. We commit to ensure that our athletes’ health is prioritized and that every effort is made to ensure that our athletes have a chance to participate in sporting activities by minimizing chances of infection. Our mantra is to have zero Covid-19 affected athletes.
The following are key highlights drawn from the revised Protocols:
- COVID-19 testing will be mandatory at the cost of Sports Federations, Sports Organizations, participants, or event organizers as applicable for all competitions. Team Kenya testing costs shall be met by the Government.
- The Ministry in conjunction with the Ministry of Health will continue with the sportspersons’ vaccination program on priority basis.
- Federations entering teams for international events will be required to seek travel clearance from the Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Culture and Heritage and the designated Team Medical Personnel (with training in Medicine).
- The Ministry will not authorize travel to countries where the COVID-19 case load is established to be high or where the Ministry of Health advises to be high risk.
- All Under 18 Sports remain suspended. Special consideration will be granted to National Teams preparing for select international events.
- The Ministry will prepare and release elaborate bubble camp training and event protocols. All Olympic participating teams will be accommodated at designated Bubble training camps in strict compliance with these Guidelines, the Ministry of Health Guidelines and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games playbooks. Testing of Athletes shall be done every 96 hours until the commencement of the Olympic Games to ensure that Kenyan athletes are safe and exposed to the rigors of Covid-19 control expected in Tokyo.
- Private fitness clubs may re-open immediately and observe all the containment measures including strict social distancing, sanitization, handwashing among other measures as provided in the Guidelines. Strict adherence is expected from gym owners and users in this respect.
- No spectators shall be allowed at any sporting events.
- All sports Federations are expected to submit weekly returns of COVID-19 tests carried out on active athletes.
- The first athletes’ delegation to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will depart the country on 5th July, 2021 and will be based in Kurume City for 12 days in strict adherence with the released Tokyo 2020 Playbook.
- The Ministry, in conjunction with the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) and the Kenya National Paralympic Committee (KNPC) will continue to educate and sensitize athletes on the playbook with daily activity logs submitted to the Ministry by the General Team Managers until the conclusion of the Games.
I thank my colleague in the Ministry of Health, Hon. Mutahi Kagwe for the support in revising and approving these guidelines and call upon all stakeholders to comply with them. Together, we can fight the pandemic and maintain a low case load to guarantee continued play.
The Ministry will continue to monitor compliance and will revise these Protocols from time to time depending on the global and local situational analysis of the pandemic guided by reports from the Ministry of Health and in the best interest of the health and safety of all our stakeholders and most importantly, the general public.
Issued at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage Headquarters, Nairobi
Amb. (Dr.) Amina Mohamed, EGH, CAV