By Stephen DienerAmongst all of the debates to ensue during the Coronavirus pandemic, there is one that has stood above all the rest.And no, it’s not whether or not Trump wants us to eat Lysol, or how many ice cream bars Pelosi has in her freezer.The most hotly contested issue has been whether or not the lockdown was necessary, or if it was even worth it considering the economic toll it has taken on millions of Americans.I’m not going to pretend like this is an easy question with an easy answer, because it’s not. Both the question and answer have many layers and sub layers to it. So I will boil it down to these simple points…You can get a job back, but you can’t get a life back.The economy will bounce back, but those who lost a loved one because of this virus, young or old, will never see them again.Make no mistake about it, this country has been fighting a war since March 11th and we were all asked to play a part in the battle. Our role was to stay home and to stop the spread of infection. That was the mission and now we are finally turning the tide.I know it has been extremely difficult, maybe for some more than others, but this was the best battle strategy for the situation that we were presented with.Some opponents of this strategy have pointed to Sweden in their success of herd immunity. They kept schools open, bars open, and life moving on. The result so far?… Twenty one thousand cases and close to three thousand deaths. Those in favor of this strategy would say that is a win all things considered.But keep one very important fact in mind when making the Sweden argument.Their population compared to ours does not even begin to compare. At last check, Sweden has a population of 10 million people. To put that into perspective, Florida and New York combine for 40 million Americans alone.Lest we forget the whole point of the “stay home, stay safe” strategy in the first place was to avoid the country’s medical system from becoming overwhelmed with the over 330 million Americans. Could you imagine the entire country looking like New York did at their height of the virus? Not a pretty picture.And now that it hasn’t happened, our reaction is, “well, that wasn’t as bad as they said it was going to be. We did this all for nothing.”Understand something, the plan worked!The worst predictions did not come to pass because we all bought into social distancing and staying home. You win any war by sticking to a battle plan, this has been no different.
Much has been discussed here and elsewhere about pending action at the XV IAAF (International Association of Athletic Federations) World Championships in Athletics. Track and field is, by far, Jamaica’s most successful sport. Its biennial showpiece happens in the Chinese city of Beijing, competition lasting from August 22 to 30. It marks a highly anticipated revisit to the Bird’s Nest Stadium, where Jamaica’s sprinters staged a major coup at the Olympics in 2008. In six events, including the sprint relays, five gold medals went to the land of Bob Marley and the Reggae Boyz. That a season-long, high-riding, twice-convicted drug cheat, Justin Gatlin, is part of the USA’s spoil-the-island party only enhances the hype. One expects, following a telling London Diamond League experience, the big man himself, Usain Bolt, will make it a spectacle that only dreams can envisage. That excitement aside, there will be boardroom decisions to ponder. From them will surface a separate brand of doubts, drama, and disappointments. Come August 18-20, the hosts, the IAAF, will be holding their 50th congress. Being an even-numbered staging, elections for official positions in the hierarchy will be held. It is a contradiction of sorts that Jamaica does not have a single post in the structure of the existing world governing body. Such a distinction could be considered almost automatic, given the nation’s international high profile in the sport. In a determined attempt to correct that, four individuals have been sent forward to ‘face the music’. Dr Warren Blake, not without negative murmurs behind the curtains, holds the top spot in the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA). A seasoned politician, he will contest for a place on the IAAF council. The association’s general secretary, Garth Gayle, rumoured to be looking at Blake’s chair in next year’s local polls, will vie for technical committee membership. The quartet of hopefuls is completed by JAAA’s third vice-president, 1996 Atlanta Olympics 400 metres hurdles gold medallist, Deon Hemmings-McCatty, and road racing organiser, Alan Beckford. Respectively, they will be hunting women’s and cross-country committee status. Beckford, who is not on the executive of the association, was co-opted for the exercise. Foster’s Fairplay quizzed the straight talker, who co-founded and is currently chief organiser for the Jamaica College-hosted Hugo Chambers 10K. There was anxiety as to his thoughts about being sent to the polls, while not an elected member of the JAAA executive. “Having been involved in road racing for more than 30 years, and cross country as well, I think the executive of the JAAA would have seen my qualities and, knowing that I was integrally involved in many a way, with the growth of distance running in Jamaica … hence, this is the reason they selected me,” he said. The die is cast, for better or for worse. The country awaits the outcome.