Virus poses logistical nightmare for Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships
By Stephen Ignacio
International teams competing the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships have been asked not to come as public events are cancelled to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Gibraltar Government of has advised a limit on the number of spectators at public events in order to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
Organisers scurried overnight to limit the number of teams taking part, having decided to stop Spanish teams from attending and given priority to those who have travelled from further afield.
Sally Holmes, organiser of the Rhythmic Gymnastics National Championships, explained this was a logistical nightmare, which was "bitterly disappointing for her."
Organisers expected some 500 young gymnasts to take part with at least a thousands 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 now taking part.
Among them Commonwealth medallists 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 is going to be no friends and family watching them."
She added: "For the Sunday which is actually our busiest day, we had five hundred 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 thousand 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.