The PNG Sports Foundation, as the Government lead agency for sports in consultation with other relevant agencies, is taking preventative measures to counter the risk of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
PNGSF Executive Peter Tsiamalili Jnr said the decision would not be taken lightly as Papua New Guineans are very passionate in sports but the event was an activity that encompasses a large congregation of people and the risk factors could be detrimental if preventative measures were not introduced sooner.
“At this time of the year when our global community is shocked by the wild spreading of the coronavirus and combating to control the spread of the pandemic, we Papua New Guinea as a nation must also prepare to take necessary preventive measures to control the epidemic,” Tsiamalili said.
“The nation is preparing to prevent and control this globally infectious virus; it is now everyone’s responsibility to maintain our individual health and hygiene as part of the preventive measures against this global threat.
“Therefore, in tune with the Prime Minister’s address to the Nation and its recommendations to limit mass gatherings and encouraging social distance, the PNG Sports Foundation, as agency responsible for sports and in consultation with National Federations and Department of Health, has taken its decision as part of the preventive measures in the usage of the sporting venues that are managed by PNG Sports Foundation.
“Today we conducted a meeting with representatives from National Federations, PNG Olympic Committee and other stakeholders of sports at the Bisini Sports Precinct and the recommendation to suspend sports for 30 days effective immediately was fully endorsed by those present,” Tsiamalili said.
“I’d like to announce to the public, sporting clubs, National Federations and our valued sporting fraternity that the usage of all Government sporting facilities in Port Moresby and throughout the country are suspended for 4 weeks (30 days) until such time, the Sports Foundation completes a risk assessment with health officials on the preparedness of our team and sporting affiliates to manage and deal with the potential of the coronavirus.
“Mass gatherings through sporting activities are highly visible events with the potential for serious public health consequences if they are not planned and managed carefully. It is also evident that mass gatherings can amplify the spread of infectious diseases and it is incumbent on my team to take this approach.
“Once we are satisfied with our preparations in terms of our sporting affiliate’s management capacity and necessary S.O.P’s (Standard Operating Procedures) to manage the threat, then we will announce the opening of our sporting venues and facilities for normal business.
“Currently, the situation is still very fluid and I appeal to all sports and the general public to be content and appreciative as we navigate through these uncertain times with the likelihood of the case still very high.”
(Women’s 7-aside at Bisini last weekend. The soccer precinct, like other sporting venues, will be on lockdown as a safety measure)