SPORT IS about sacrifice. Athletes sacrifice their time and their bodies to achieve their potential.

In team sports, players sacrifice their ego, personal glory and even money for the collective good.

Athletes have been sacrificing still more since March 2020.

On August 13, Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe was asked whether TT was observing how other countries (including Jamaica and some other Caribbean countries) had got the ball rolling.

She said, “Just like any other sector…the faster we vaccinate, the faster we could return to some level of normalcy."

Ms Cudjoe later put the ball in the Chief Medical Officer’s court when asked whether a certain percentage of athletes needed to be vaccinated for domestic leagues to resume.

She said the ministry was working on vaccination drives for sporting disciplines “so they would be ready to get back out…when that time comes and when the CMO gives us the okay.”

But at a press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister said sport, as this newspaper wrote on July 4, was firmly on the back burner.

Asked about restarting domestic sport leagues, he said because of the continuing need to “reduce the numbers of hours of exposure, unfortunately, we have sacrificed those sporting activities, so as to allow other activities to come forth.

"So we are still a little away from doing what we would like to do in the sporting leagues."

Nevertheless, Dr Rowley said the Government was looking to reopen most of the entertainment sector at the end of September, conditional on an aggressive vaccination uptake.

Will the sacrifice be worth it?

Whenever the green light is given for domestic athletes to return to their craft, there will be no immediate resurrection. The impact of almost two years of inactivity will be felt for several years.

A generation of athletes has been sacrificed. Junior athletes have aged out with little footage to show colleges and international scouts to earn scholarships and opportunities abroad.

It is a miracle that Pro League footballer Reon Moore could shine on the international stage at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup – despite not having played a competitive match since March 2020.

Did the Government see how invested the public was in our national athletes at the Tokyo Olympics?

Are we sure sport is the sector that needs to be sacrificed?

On August 17, Dr Rowley admonished the public for its resistance to past PNM projects aimed at diversification, because the country cannot continue to depend on oil and gas.

Taxpayers have paid billions to construct and maintain facilities such as the National Aquatic Centre, National Cycling Velodrome, National Racquet Centre, Brian Lara Cricket Academy, and other stadiums across the country.

What are the returns on these investments? Is “sport tourism” just a phrase to be thrown about? Have we developed a sporting culture? Are we close to it?

Sacrificing sport for almost two years makes the answer seem obvious.