By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
A Joint Communiqué signed by the National Covid-19 Response Centre (NACOVERC), and the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) has said that spectators, football fans and other sport officials in the country will be required to produce vaccination cards in order to access the national stadium and other designated stadium and grounds nationwide in order to watch football match as the country’s Premier League is expected to start on September 11th 2021.
“Following NACOVERC’s public notice dated 13th August, 2021 which requires (among others) players and officials to provide proof of Covid -19 vaccination or negative PCR test in order to access a sports venue, bearing in mind Government’s continued commitment to saving lives and livelihoods in the fight against COVID-19, and further noting the public’s overwhelming desire to see resumption of football and other sporting disciplines in the country,’’ the joint communiqué said.
It could be recalled that in June, the country suspended the premier league due to the increase in Covid -19 cases prompting a ban on all sport activities.
According to the joint communiqué , the National COVID-19 Emergency Response Centre (NACOVERC), the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS) and the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA), having had an extensive discussion around Covid -19 and the risks it continues to pose to lives and livelihoods including football, hereby commits to a vaccination cooperation framework in the country.
“That on Tuesday 31st August 2021 , the parties agree to a symbolic launch of covid-19 vaccine at the Presidential stand , National Stadium , for national team players and officials in the premier league , divisions one and two and female footballers’’ the NARCOVERC joint communiqué added.
The NACOVERC joint communiqué further added that following the symbolic launch, vaccination teams will be stationed at the National stadium and other designated venues in the provinces from Tuesday 31st August, 2021 for the next one week from 9 am -4pm daily.
“As over 90% of football teams rely on gate –takings to survive, football fans and spectators all over the country can also access the venues for vaccination. This is because spectators will be required to produce vaccination cards in order to access the national stadium and other designated stadium and grounds,’’
“NACOVERC- MOHS and SLFA will work with their structures nationwide for a successful roll out of the vaccines to the football family. The parties commit to sustained education and community mobilization to ensure ramping up of vaccination not just among the football family, but the nation as a whole,’’ the joint communiqué added.
The NACOVERC joint Communiqué however called on all football stakeholders to be role models in vaccination and be part of the nationwide surge as the West African nation look forward to a safe resumption of football and sports generally.
Sierra Leone recently experience third wave of the delta variant of the Covid -19 pandemic.