The presidential announcement, Friday, March 26, of the suspension of sports activities in the country dealt a blow to rugby and by extension to the largest sports fraternity.
While this directive was part of a series of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 that continues to wreak havoc locally and internationally, it has left us in a sticky situation.
The suspension came at a time when Kenyan rugby was resuming after a year of inactivity brought on by the initial lockdown and the ensuing factors critical to getting the government green light to resume play. This period of inactivity has had an impact. cost. We have lost revenue due to event cancellations including the Rugby Africa Barthes U20 Trophy, the National Sevens Circuit and the Safari Sevens.
Although the government was kind enough to offer a stimulus package for our national team players, there were those players outside of the national team realm who were deprived of their rights by the disruption of activities. sports all over the country.
Think of the men and women who have contributed to the game as match officials, doctors, service providers, salespeople, journalists, photographers and broadcasters – their livelihoods have been affected and they, alongside their dependents , suffered most of the disruption.
We have also subjected our employees to pay cuts as part of the mitigating factors induced by this unique situation.
The Kenya Rugby Union had to take these steps at a time when our national men’s and women’s teams were preparing to fly the Kenyan flag high in rugby sevens at the Olympics. We received a reprieve when the government allowed our national teams to resume training in accordance with a set of guidelines to which we religiously adhered.
A few months later, we would receive the green light to resume high-level local competition behind closed doors and under further direction from the authorities. The Kenya Rugby Union has again diligently adhered to these guidelines as well as those issued by the global gaming governing body, World Rugby.
By the time of the league’s suspension on Friday, March 26, 2021, we had performed a total of 1,551 COVID-19 PCR tests, of which 44 gave positive results. This gives a prevalence rate of 2.8%.
We have subjected Kenya Cup league players and match officials to regular testing and have taken necessary measures, including contact tracing and retesting in cases where players test positive for COVID -19. We went so far as to postpone appointments in cases which we believed posed a greater risk to health and safety. We have been prepared and remain ready to run the game during this difficult time.
Beyond the league, the opportunity to effectively prepare our national teams for a series of international competitions, including the Tokyo Olympics, as well as the Men’s and Women’s Rugby World Cup, grows with each passing day. Kenya is also set to host the 2021 Barthes Rugby Africa U20 Trophy and preparations have indeed progressed a notch with the formation of a government-backed Local Organizing Committee (LOC).
Rugby is a contact sport and levels of strength and conditioning take time to achieve. After the long break, the players were just starting to get in shape. With another possibly prolonged break, we will lose all gains and ultimately we will not be competitive in upcoming international assignments.
Sports federations have worked tirelessly to resume their activities in accordance with established guidelines. Many young men and women make a living in addition to sport and have been denied the opportunity to engage in meaningful income-generating activities. In addition, the cessation of sports activities poses a serious threat to the mental health and general well-being of athletes and other sports practitioners.
We humbly ask that President Uhuru Kenyatta reverse his decision to suspend sports activities, including rugby.
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