Virus threat casts doubt over all sports in Samoa

By Thomas Airey 19 March 2020, 7:00PM

Local sport in Samoa face an uncertain future with the threat of COVID-19 hanging over the country.

The novel coronavirus pandemic is being felt all around the world, and on Wednesday Samoa’s Ministry of Health confirmed the presence of the country’s first suspected case.

Samoa Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee (S.A.S.N.O.C.) are taking guidance from the Ministry of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s updates from the Ministry of Health on COVID-19’s effects and subsequent Government action.

The Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) have already advised all sporting bodies intending to compete overseas to cancel their travel arrangements, and for the public to avoid mass gatherings.

At an awareness raising programme on Wednesday, M.O.H. Assistant Chief Executive Officer of Health Protection and Enforcement Mae’e Ualesi Silva said the Ministry has made its recommendations to Cabinet regarding closing public gatherings, including sporting tournaments.

Mae’e said M.O.H. is waiting for Cabinet’s decision on the matter.

Sporting competitions between secondary schools  were cancelled until further notice on Wednesday, with some federations choosing to act now.

Netball Samoa cancelled its FIZZ FREE youth tournament and Oriana after-school clinics on Thursday, while the Rugby Academy of Samoa is putting off it’s Saturday morning sessions until further notice.

The Football Federation of Samoa also declared all their tournaments, workshops and trainings to be postponed until further notice on Thursday afternoon, while the upcoming Mr. Samoa national bodybuilding championships and Marist Boxing: 8 Count tournament were both postponed or cancelled this week.

The Samoa Weightlifting Federation (S.W.F.) see the possible spread of COVID-19 to Samoa as a major concern, but with the Olympic Games in July still set to go ahead, the S.W.A. Samoa Weightlifting Team are keeping their training going.

"We have taken precautions to lock down the camp and lock the athletes inside,” coach and S.W.F. President Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork said.  

“They will continue camping and training but visitors or anyone outside will not be allowed in , including family members.  It's the best we can do for now.  We will keep a close eye on the virus and whether it gets worse.”

Tuaopepe added his lifters would likely be safest under a lockdown in camp rather than out in public or with their families.

“We will isolate them from the public and sit it out until they cancel the Olympics,” he said.

By Thomas Airey 19 March 2020, 7:00PM

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