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No spectators for Gib sports amid virus precautions

Local sporting events will restrict access to spectators following precautionary advice from the Gibraltar Government in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The Gibraltar Sports and Leisure Authority released a statement yesterday confirming that no spectator access will be allowed in the Bayside Sports Centre, Europa Sports Park and all other community use venues under the GSLA’s management.

The decision came into force yesterday and saw parents advised to drop off and collect children in sports sessions and not to hang around.

“This is already in place at Bayside and Westside schools and is working very well,” the GSLA said in a statement.

“Common sense must prevail and we must all be pragmatic about how we approach these changes.”

“Those parents/guardians or others entrusted with dropping off and collecting children can enter venues and stay until the child is settled.”

“They can also chat to coaches and discuss issues with them etc. However, we urge the general public to assist GSLA staff and association representatives by moving away from the facility when the time comes thus avoiding unnecessary confrontations.”

“We also ask that those making use of indoor facilities refrain from congregating in common areas such as corridors as they will be moved on.”

“There is no need to panic but we must be prudent in order to protect the most vulnerable members of our community wherever and whenever we can.”

Gibraltar FA and Gibraltar Rugby matches will also be held with no spectators, but the new policy has caused a logistical nightmare for the Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships.

The coronavirus policy against large gatherings has seen organisers scramble to limit the number of teams competing in the championships this weekend.

The overnight decision has seen some international teams asked not to come.

Sally Holmes, organiser of the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships, told the Chronicle this was “bitterly disappointing” for her.

Organisers expected some 500 young gymnasts to take part with at least a thousand additional visitors accompanying them.

The numbers have since been whittled down to just half of this, with only the Gibraltar team and those from the UK and Majorca, who had already arrived in Gibraltar, now taking part.

Among them are Commonwealth medalists and gymnasts bidding for the Britain's World championship team.

"We do not want it to spread, we understand that,” Ms Holmes said.

“So I think from their side the Government is being really proactive, so that I do understand."

She has been working all night long contacting teams and rescheduling this weekend's event order.

"From the gymnastics point of view it is really disappointing because we have people who have come from overseas and there is going to be nobody in the audience and for all our Gibraltar girls participating it is going to be very disappointing as there are going to be no friends and family watching them,” she said.

She added: "For the Sunday, which is actually our busiest day, we had 500 girls who were going to be competing. We have had to cancel from everybody coming in from Spain, Ceuta and areas like this, because with them come parents and in the risk assessment the risk was too high. With 500 girls there would be a minimum of a 1,000 parents coming throughout the day, so the risk assessment was a bit too high."

Ms Holmes explained that the decision had also meant that orders made for the day had to be cancelled.

She highlighted how teams from Ceuta and Granada had already booked hotels in order to come to Gibraltar and would now need to change their plans at short notice.

"We are going ahead because we have 58 people coming from Wales, another 70 that are here from England and we have got people who have come from Majorca and because they are all staying here in hotels, they have all paid and arrived yesterday we are going to continue,” Ms Holmes said.

“I’m just feeling really gutted that we are doing it and there is no one here to watch.”

The organisers have already received assurances that there will be assistance from security personnel, including the police, to assist in the management of any problems which might arise when they impose the restrictions on spectators arriving.

Organisers are hoping that the competition will be scheduled to take place in full in May "if things calm down."

"[This is a] big competition for our girls and at the moment we do not know if we are going to be allowed to compete in competitions in Spain, this weekend might be the only competition they might do all year,” Ms Holmes said.

FOOTBALL AND RUGBY

The Gibraltar FA and Gibraltar Rugby announced restrictions on all matches, after the Gibraltar Government issued advice in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The restrictions imposed will affect all GFA quarter final cup matches which began on yesterday evening and restrictions on junior and youth league matches.

The GFA and Gibraltar Rugby Football Union [GRFU] confirmed the “no spectator policy” was introduced following advice from the government and Public Health Gibraltar.

"Only players, coaches and Gibraltar FA officials will be allowed to access the Victoria Stadium,” a GFA statement read.

“Signage will be displayed around the Victoria Stadium with the necessary advice."

"Traditional pre match and post-match handshakes have also been suspended with immediate effect.”

"All clubs have been advised, by the Gibraltar FA, to implement a one parent per child policy at youth team training sessions."

"The Gibraltar FA is constantly monitoring the situation and is liaising with all the relevant authorities and stakeholders. Advice and information affecting any future events will be issued in due course."

Gibraltar Rugby added the new policy includes fixtures, tournaments, training sessions and coaching events.

“Parents of children attending coaching events are advised that they will have to drop off and pick their up children from Harding's Battery,” Gibraltar Rugby said.

“Parents will not be allowed to remain at the stadium during the coaching session (with the exception of Rugger Tots where a maximum of 1 adult per child is permitted).”

“Sanitizers and signage will be in place providing the necessary advice. The GRFU urges all its members, volunteers and supporters to adhere to the Government's advice on preventative measures regarding COVID-19.”

The announcement comes ahead of the planned open coaching session for women this weekend in which rugby was promoting the idea of women taking up the sport and ahead of a scheduled veterans match next month which is due to see Lockswood Veterans playing a veterans selection.

Other sports which have already stated their intention to follow the advise given by the Government and GSLA are basketball. Officials from the association have confirmed that given the present climate they will follow the guidelines given to them and will be informing their decision accordingly.

If anyone has any concerns call the 111 Covid-19 helpline for further advice.