In an effort for all sporting personnel to "Be In The Know" about the COVID-19 bio-safety measures for sports, the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) hosted the first of two sessions on Saturday, to ensure that are all stakeholders are well-informed.
Some of the main topics discussed during the opening "Be In The Know" Webinar included competition preparedness, positive and negative cases, vaccination, requirements for travel and PCR testing, which was prompted by the recently concluded Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan.
The 2020 Olympics was delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic which allowed for the reorganising of the world's premier sporting event. In restrategising, the organisers implemented playbooks, which outlined rules for athletes, officials and media attending the Games.
It was here that COVID-19 Liaison Officers (CLO) were introduced and they were required to alert officials to any breaches within their own delegation.
Rheeza Grant served as T&T's CLO at the Tokyo Olympics and on the weekend she was one of the feature speakers at the virtual event, sharing on her experience in Japan and provided valuable information to operate in the 'new normal' for sports.
"Sports will never be the same once COVID-19 is around and in order to keep sport alive, we must do certain things," said Grant. "Become vaccinated. Appoint a CLO, especially to major games or a manager/coach should be equipped with the necessary information for the purpose of competition and training.
"Communication with key stakeholders in sporting organisations as well as your local Ministries."
She added: "Ensure that you are up to date with the relevant COVID-19 information. Provide the necessary information to the delegation. Ensure everyone complies with all the rules in whatever countermeasures guideline manual and books that it may have for the specific event/game.
"Collaborating with local and international health authorities and other parties in case of finding COVID-19 positive, any symptoms of COVID, or close contact among the delegation members before, during and even five to seven days after travel."
Grant had first-hand experience at the Games dealing with issue of three members of the T&T delegation testing positive for COVID-19. Two athletes, hurdler Sparkle McKnight, long jumper Anduwelle Wright and Wright's coach Wendell Williams. Then, they had to be quarantined following COVID-19 testing at the Games Village and took no further part in the event.
It definitely was a learning experience for Grant to which shared a breakdown of the guidelines she followed at the Tokyo Games, pointing out the importance of making a checklist, as follows:
1 Pre-departure - Compiling the documents for immigration, COVID-19 negative certificates and three COVID-19 PCR Tests was conducted, relating to the Tokyo Olympics.
2 During stay - Ensured rule-compliance during the entire stay; reserving and supervising regular for tests the delegation members, collaborating with the country's health authorities, international federation, local organising committee and others for COVID-19 related matters.
3 Departure - Ensuring respective members take the required PCR test if necessary. Ensuring all members complete the Emigration process smoothly.
Earlier, Dr Terry Ali, chairman of the First Citizen's Sports Foundation, also spoke on the importance of communication during these times and advised that protocols will vary for each country.
"We learn that we must communicate well because protocols are different from country to country.
"If we are going to participate, if we are going to host a major event we must have good communications, good interactions and I like the idea of what Japan did, they set up the COVID-19 officer who could interact and interface with other COVID officers from other countries," said Dr Ali.
"We need to understand, one, the health protocols in our country and the health protocols everywhere. This is not a time to make a decision to travel without understanding other countries' protocols and your own protocols.
"We must know that it differs from country to country and the countries we are going to, we must understand a number of things. We must understand their protocols, we must understand their national security requirements. We must understand the travel requirements before we get on the plane.
"We must understand the requirements for testing and results, the language they are written in, we must understand quarantine before or do we quarantine after, do we start the bubble before or do we start the bubble after.
"And we must understand the mandate and vaccination," said Dr Ali, who closed with: "Always be in the know."