The PNG Sport Foundation will effective immediately close all its venues and services (except essential functions) across the country.
This will be till the 30th October when it will be reviewed upon advice from the National Control Centre (NCC) and Controller.
The PNGSF Executive Director, Albert Veratau, and PNGOC Secretary General Auvita Rapilla met with NCC’s Niupela Pasin team to discuss a reprieve for Sports on Friday last week.
The closure of sporting competitions put an enormous strain on the sporting community. Many sporting competitions were in or nearing finals for the season.
Sports development programs, representative activities and community sports initiatives amongst others were also discussed.
For the PNGSF and other administrations, sports is their livelihood and a means of employment and income. The lockdown means we will have to lay off many of our sporting venue workers yet again.
PNGOC Secretary General Auvita Rapilla also added that most sports were preparing for qualifying events, national championships and trials to select teams/athletes to meet Organising Committee deadlines for the Commonwealth Games and Mini Pacific Games happening next year 2022.
PNGSF Pandemic Management Committee Chairman and Chief Medical Officer Dr Kapua Kapua was to continue negotiations with Niupela Pasin and the Deputy Controller, this week.
However it became apparent over the weekend that the spread of the Delta variant was indeed of great concern. Reports of oxygen shortages, increasing COVID-19 infections, poor vaccination coverage, health systems struggling to cope, health worker shortages, and the increasing death toll, have put things into perspective.
After careful consideration of the surge in affected provinces and feedback through health sources, it was decided that to pursue a reprieve would put the sports community at grave risk.
This is not about having COVID-19 protocols and being compliant but rather the aggressive spread of the Delta variant in the community and the strain on health resources and subsequent death toll it is leaving in its wake.
We all have our part to play in the community to keep it safe and healthy. The PNGSF was one of the first government departments in 2020 to react and shut its venues when the Pandemic broke out.
PNGSF has been instrumental in the response with assisting the NCC and Provincial Health Authorities in several provinces with their response to COVID-19.
It was decided then, as it is being decided now, that in the time of crisis where PNG lives are at stake, we will do what’s necessary to protect our sporting community and assist the Department of Health to prevent the loss of lives.