Coronavirus: Dubai sports groups suspend all activities for Under 18s

Grassroots organisations act on advice from health authorities and Dubai Sports Council

Leading community sports providers in Dubai have chosen to suspend all activities for Under 18s until further notice. Courtesy Gulf Youth Sport
Powered by automated translation

Leading community sports providers in Dubai have chosen to suspend all activities for Under 18s until further notice.

Acting on the latest advice from health authorities and Dubai Sports Council, a group of 24 of the largest grassroots sports groups took the decision on Monday evening.

Their activities have been cancelled as part of precautions to combat the spread of coronavirus.

The decision is expected to stay in force until around the time that schools are scheduled to reopen, on April 5.

Sports providers in the city had already had their operations affected by the closure of schools on March 8, with many reliant on school facilities to provide their services.

Some had been able to limit the disruption in the meantime by finding alternative venues, but not all organisations in the industry were able to do the same.

After the school closures announcement was made, 24 competing organisations joined together to try to navigate the problems they were facing.

In recent days, a number of swimming academies, for example, have been conducting their classes at public beaches.

Now, though, they will cease their activities altogether, as per the latest health and safety advice.

Many of the group are competitors in a normal operating climate, but have been sharing the mantra #InThisTogetherDubai in their social media announcements in the past days.

Gareth Mordey, the chief executive of Infinite Sports, oversees an operation that provides regular activities for more than 4,000 children in Dubai.

When the schools closed, they lost the use of 54 facilities at which they regularly provide sport.

He chaired an emergency meeting of fellow sports providers last week.

He said the organisations faced challenging times over the coming weeks, but backed the decisions that have been made.
"As a sector that defines and propagates happiness and well-being for children by keeping them healthy, active and fit, we fully endorse and support the directives," Mr Mordey said.

“We are at the forefront of providing support to all our stakeholders, the most important being parents of particularly young children.

“We are trying our level best and will keep doing so until this whole issue is behind us, so we can safely restart our sports activities.”

Four weeks lost business will prove a difficult financial burden for many to bear, and Mr Mordey is hopeful the authorities will be able to assist those most in need.

“All of us in the sports sector have dedicated our lives for the well-being of children,” Mr Mordey said.

“We sincerely hope that we can get the support financially, either through grants or soft loans so that we can revive our businesses and keep our staff employed.

“We would be seeking support from the government in these trying circumstances, and we are confident of the support from them.

"This is why our region is considered among the safest and most prosperous in the world.”

Hamilton Aquatics informed parents and participants in their swimming academy via Facebook that activities would be postponed from March 10.

“This afternoon, we visited Dubai Sports Council and have spoken to the KHDA, to see how we can support the wider sports community during this time,” Hamilton Aquatics wrote.

“It is very clear we are a small part of a much broader strategy across the UAE to combat the spread of Covid-19.

“Following these conversations, we have chosen to postpone all of our activities from March 10 until schools re-open."

The academy said their staff would now take a short break, and that their operations "will resume a few days before schools re-open".

“We are appreciative and grateful for all the support that the Dubai Sports Council has extended to us during this difficult time and we encourage you all to stay fit and active in a safe environment during this break,” they wrote.

It’s Just Football, one of Dubai’s foremost grassroots football academies, made a similar statement.

“Following today’s announcement from Dubai Sports Council, we are following the directive to suspend all of our sporting activities in all venues effective immediately,” IJF wrote on their Facebook page.

“We continue to follow guidance from the Dubai Health Authority, Dubai Sports Council and the [Knowledge and Human Development Authority].

"We look forward to restarting our operations in schools once they are open again and we have the relevant approvals from the KHDA and Dubai Sports Council.
"As always, our focus is the health and safety of all children and the whole of our community and we thank parents for their understanding at this time."