Ricardo Rampersad: “What kind of leadership and example is it for these experts to allow kids to partake in a gathering with 26 swimmers and at least three experts, bringing the total to 29?
“[…] What was even more disturbing is that the president of the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Lindsay Gillette, endorsed this, and he is labelled as an ‘expert’ for this camp. Another ‘expert’ was former Minister of Sport Anil Roberts.”
Anil Roberts: “Of course you cannot say it was 100 percent safe but it was quite impressive… The kids are probably at more risk now with parents going to the grocery and going to work and coming back home.”
The following Letter to the Editor on a live-in swim camp held in Trinidad between 13-15 March 2020 was submitted to Wired868 by Ricardo Rampersad. The camp was held BEFORE a government ban on large gatherings but began on the same day that the Ministry of Education announced the closure of schools.
Swim coach Anil Roberts, a former minister of sport, responded below:
I expect COVID19 measures are going to affect athletes as their training may have been reduced or stopped. However, sports organisations that continue practices must adhere to social distancing recommendations. It was, therefore, disappointing to read in the Trinidad Guardian on Wednesday 18 March 2020, that the Atlantis Aquatics Swim Club had chosen to have a SLEEP-IN CAMP with minors during a time where the Honorable Prime Minister urged persons to be responsible.
Mind you, I actually read the CDC said that chlorine in pools inactivates the Covid-19, so my issue is not them swimming once safety protocols are observed. It is the fact that is a non-essential sleep-in camp that scares me.
What was even more disturbing is that the president of the Amateur Swimming Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Mr Lindsay Gillette, endorsed this, and he is labelled as an ‘expert’ for this camp. Another ‘expert’ was former Minister of Sport Anil Roberts.
Other than being a national swimmer, I did not know the Joshua Mc Leod individual, but my further checks revealed that he is the son of the owner of Atlantis Aquatics, Mr Joseph Mc Leod. Mr Joseph Mc Leod is the first vice president of the swimming association.
How could these ‘experts’ and leaders in swimming allow this to persist, especially since two of these ‘experts’ served in parliament? One of the experts has actually acted as prime minister of this country. What kind of leadership and example is it for these experts to allow kids to partake in a gathering with 26 swimmers and at least three experts, bringing the total to 29?
I read that swimmers are missing the Carifta games, and I know this must be heart-breaking for them. But couldn’t this camp be postponed or organised in a way that it does not violate the guidelines set forth by Dr Keith Rowley? Didn’t these kids’ parents see something wrong with enrolling their children in a sleep-in camp at this time?
If we want to successfully combat Covid-19, it is a team effort and we all have to make sacrifices. Shame on these experts that compromised the safety of children in order to get a full-page article. In the pictures, I see kids with their hands on their faces, which is not recommended at this time.
And even if we give a bligh to the extra four, what about social distancing? Non-existent. And then they all slept together. Was there screening before the camp where parents of these kids declared that they had not recently travelled? They didn’t say who the experts were, but the article stated that ‘they have been monitoring the children’s temperatures and for symptoms of coughing and sneezing’. Was one of these experts a doctor?
I am sure the camp would have been beneficial to help the swimmers improve their craft. Unfortunately, we are a very political country, too, so it makes me wonder if the party affiliation of these ‘experts’ was one of the reasons they chose to be irresponsible and defy the PNM government.
Whatever the motivation, the parents of the children and these ‘experts’ should all hang their heads in shame for not promoting public health and being poor examples in this time of crisis. God forbid that one of these campers had Covid-19 while overnighting with this group.
(Response from Anil Roberts)
The kids were in a quarantined setting without any visitors coming in. They were in a safer situation than anyone else. It was a live-in camp; there were no visitors, five different types of sanitisers and anyone who left to get gatorade or anything anywhere else followed the guidelines by the Ministry of Health.
You could never be certain [that nobody at the camp had Covid-19] but I am certain that all the protocols recommended by the Ministry of Health were followed… Of course in life there is always risk but in my opinion the organisers did a very good job. Because the children were kept apart, safe and quarantined and able to work on their sport—so I don’t share the view that it was dangerous and irresponsible. We would never take a risk with something as dangerous as coronavirus.[…] Of course you cannot say it was 100 percent safe but it was quite impressive… The kids are probably at more risk now with parents going to the grocery and going to work and coming back home.
It was probably the last training they can do because now all sports have had to suspend training. In this case the little camp, they were far safer than what we are living in right now.