Even though the government gave the green light for non-contact sport to resume playing, Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA), Dale Clarke, said he still has no intentions of hosting any tournaments this year despite the changes.
Clarke said PRTA did not believe it would be socially responsible to host road tennis events that attract a large number of people during this time when the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was still prevalent.
Considering there are still cases popping up, Clarke told Barbados TODAY they might only do promotional events using social media. Also, once the pandemic eases by summer they would travel overseas providing there were flights in and out of the country.
“We will not be having any events because my concern would still be social distancing. Some of the bigger countries are predicting that the coronavirus will be with us for the rest of the year or beyond. So, I don’t think that the spectators or fans would have built back the confidence to come out and support tournaments in the large numbers that we usually attract.
“Obviously the players would be gearing and ready to go because they love the sport, so they look forward to playing it. But at the end of the day, we still have to be responsible and look at it from a fan’s perspective. So, I don’t think that it will be wise. I don’t know if other organisers will do it but for us, I don’t think it would be socially responsible to keep major tournaments this year, “ Clarke said.
The PRTA CEO cautioned players that even though they have been given the go-ahead to play, they needed to focus on their hygiene. He explained that bearing in mind the virus was still out there, players would sweat and that could be transferred on to the ball.
“I would encourage the players that even though you are given the green light to concentrate on hygiene more. So, walk with towels, armbands and headbands to limit the amount of perspiration. Then when they come off the court go and wash your hands immediately. They should also wipe off the ball before another set of players go on the court to limit the exchange of perspiration,” Clarke said.
Despite opting not to have any major competition this year, Clarke explained that they did intend to do a couple of promotions in what he described as controlled environments outside of Barbados.
“If we do those promotions they would have to be in a controlled environment and limit the number of participants that we would be going to. That means we would have to concentrate more on the broadcast side of it. Like broadcasting the actual events to homes.
“Right now attracting large crowds is a no-no because I personally would be sceptical. So, I don’t want to do something for someone that I wouldn’t like for myself. At the end of the day you have to put aside money, everything is not about money. I believe a person’s safety and health are more important at the end of the day and once we get through this we will try to get back to as normal as possible, “ Clare said.
He added: “We are not out of the woods yet because we are still getting cases and you never know we may get a flare-up.”
Clarke indicated that when it came time to travel and do promotions, they would ensure that all involved including the players were tested.
He also lauded Prime Minister Mia Mottley for giving persons the opportunity to play sports again and said road tennis was the ideal sport to play and keep fit during this period.
“Exercise is an important part of strengthening the immune system and as you can see persons with stronger immune systems were able to beat the virus. Those with the weak immune system or underlying illnesses were really hard hit.
“Road tennis is the perfect sport because you get a total body workout. We look at it from the perspective of tournaments. But if you look at it from the perspective of you and your family, where you and your son or daughter or uncle, grandparent, you all could just play by drawing a court in your driveway or if you have enough space in your yard,” Clarke said.