Tuesday, 26th May of 2020, Sri Lanka’s Colombo and Gampaha districts opened up after authorities relaxed a curfew after a period of two months, signalling that the COVID-19 pandemic was well under control in the country but our vigilance should remain.
These past two months have been detrimental to many, as businesses remained shut, movements were restricted, families were separated, schools were closed and financially many became crippled, especially the daily wage workers.
However there was another issue, which did not hit the headlines as much as I expected, and that is the rise in mental health illness which saw a rise in Sri Lanka as people were confined inside their homes and their normal lives came to a standstill.
Through my experience in sports, I have realized that mental health illness can to a great extent be treated by doing sports and even yoga. Therefore, last week, when the Prime Minister met senior cricketers to discuss about the Diyagama International cricket stadium, I raised the issue that instead of utilizing millions of dollars for a new stadium, those funds instead should be utilized to develop the sports sector in all districts so that people including children can be encouraged to concentrate more on their physical fitness as this not only helps maintain the immune system but it also helps one stay fit and relieve stress.
The senior cricketers said they had a development plan for sports in Sri Lanka to which the Prime Minister immediately instructed the Sports Minister to study it and implement it in order to strengthen the sports sector, a sector which is also very dear to the Prime Minister as it encourages physical fitness.
In the post COVID world, it is now obvious that sports will play a very important part in our lives as being fit and maintaining a strong immune system will be a priority for all. Therefore, the government is also now looking at opening up parks, walk ways and gyms so that people can get back to practicing physical fitness, while maintaining all health guidelines set by the government. I am aware that new guidelines have been issued for gyms to begin operations and once those guidelines are adhered to, gyms can begin operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the globe in ways unimaginable. I have always been dedicated to strengthening the sports sector and will now be dedicated further in strengthening all forms of sports in the country as it has now become a necessity that our children consider this as a priority.
I will also speak with officials on how yoga can be encouraged and further strengthened while we can also have more walkways and bicycle tracks constructed. Once our domestic economy is back on track, Sri Lanka can also look to attract international sporting events back into the country which will encourage more youth to train and participate at national levels.
In a post COVID world, our lifestyles have changed, it is now time we adapt to the ‘new normal life’. Stay safe everyone and follow the health guidelines.