A REQUEST put forward by Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez for the possible reopening of public tennis courts throughout his burgesses was denied by the corporation’s chief medical officer, who cited several discrepancies.
Martinez recently met with council members and presented a detailed document issued by Tennis Association of TT (TATT) president, Hayden Mitchell, outlining several preventative and protective measures to be implemented if tennis was to resume.
This document, entitled "Return to Tennis Guidelines" was given to Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe, Martinez, tennis officials and athletes on May 10, one day after the Prime Minister issued the all clear to members of the public to engage in restricted outdoor activities. This excludes team activities, contact sport or those which require or encourage gatherings.
However, when these guidelines were presented to the corporation’s medical officer, several red flags were raised although tennis is considered a non-contact sport.
“The medical officer suggested we do not reopen the courts at this time due to the effects of safety and security protocols that are required to be observed and don’t believe would be adhered to at this point in time. There are a number of issues why they have a concern,” said Martinez on Tuesday.
According to the corporation’s report, they believe there are several risks which may associate with the use of public courts in comparison to private.
The report read, “The court surfaces may become contaminated with body fluids during the use. Surfaces contaminated by a previous user may be transferred to tennis balls or a subsequent user while in play and usually to the hands of that person.”
It also highlighted that public conveniences such as change rooms and showers are also likely areas of cross-contamination. There is the possibility of play between persons who may not be affiliated with each other, thereby bringing persons from different households together.
It continued, “It is unlikely that persons engaging in play would be wearing masks and as such these factors would increase the likelihood of hand contamination due to hand/face contact and the eventual transfer of common surfaces while in the facility. There can be no effective screening of asymptomatic persons who may use the facility. They are also unlikely to use gloves.”
The TATT’s guidelines outlined in detail a list of precautionary measures in almost every possible instance on the court. Recently, the sporting organisation launched its "Racquets Out" campaign which promotes tennis as a sport that easily adapts to the physical distancing requirements.
This campaign takes a proactive approach to educating the public on the guidelines for staying safe while playing tennis in preparation for the further easing of lockdown restrictions.
This means tennis players will now have to wait until the remaining phases are implemented to see at what stage they would be able to resume.
When contacted on Tuesday for a comment on the corporation’s decision to halt resumptions, TATT president Mitchell opted to reserve his comment.