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Malicious, Reckless and Unfounded – McKenzie

“…reject the baseless allegations and conspiracy theories being bandied out in the public domain by the irresponsible few”.

Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Hon. Desmond McKenzie has rejected claims that the Government undermined the national football programme by preventing spectators from attending the last two World Cup qualifying matches at the National Stadium.

Mr McKenzie was firm in his rejection of the allegations, “This is completely malicious, reckless and unfounded. The Government of Jamaica is facilitating the responsible return of sport and social life in general, in line with the COVID-19 indicators. There is no policy to promote one sport while restricting the other”.

He continued, “The review of applications for sporting events is made by a clearly designated range of Ministries and Agencies, including the Ministry of Health and Wellness and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, and this process, which is grounded in consultation and partnership, includes at all times the representatives of the stakeholders who make the applications. The most decisive factor in all cases is the rate of infection at the point at which the review is being made”.

Minister McKenzie says the rules have always been clear, “The policy of having a limited number of fully vaccinated spectators at sporting events was publicly introduced by me at a news conference on November 1, 2021 to facilitate fans attending the first World Cup qualifying home game between Jamaica and the United States on November 16, 2021. The online Events Authorization System was unveiled and endorsed by my colleague Ministers of Health and Wellness and Culture, Gender and Sport, as well as the President of the Jamaica Football Federation at this news conference”.

He explained that, “The reality is that the rising COVID-19 infection rates caused by the fourth wave of the virus drove the decision to have the remaining home matches played without spectators. This reality was not limited to the football programme. Permission was initially granted to the Jamaica Cricket Association to have a limited number of fully vaccinated spectators for four limited-overs matches between the West Indies and Ireland held at Sabina Park between January 8 and 16, 2022. The rising infection numbers resulted in this permission being revised to have the matches proceed without spectators. Again, the review process involved the Ministries, Agencies and cricketing stakeholders”.

Minister McKenzie is asking members of the public to reject the baseless allegations and conspiracy theories being bandied out in the public domain by the irresponsible few. He asserted that, “This Administration continues to gradually reopen the public space by facilitating sporting events, including premier league and schoolboy football. while I fully understand the disappointment of fans of any sport who wish to turn out and give their personal support, I must re-emphasize that the ability to do so depends entirely on the COVID-19 indicators and nothing else. I therefore urge all well-thinking lovers of sport to.”