CARIFTA Games in the Balance After COVID-19 Spike

carifta games
photo: cmc

A surge in COVID-19 cases in Bermuda has thrown the delayed CARIFTA Games, the region’s annual junior athletics showpiece due to be held here in August, into further doubt.

Officials say a final decision will be announced next month.

The North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) held a special information session for member federations as well as chairs of NACAC commissions and working groups at the weekend.

Having been postponed when originally scheduled in 2020 owing to the coronavirus pandemic, Bermuda transferred its hosting responsibilities to this year with the Easter weekend of April 3-5 set as the new dates.

However, continued uncertainty surrounding the pandemic forced the Games to be postponed again with the NACAC opting for revised dates of July 2-4.

Despite the new schedule being set, the organisers were once again forced into rescheduling because of a clash with the Caribbean Examinations Council external exams.

A new date of August 13-15 was agreed on, but a COVID-19 spike has cast a fresh shadow over the Games going ahead. Bermuda has seen eight deaths and 1,000 new cases in the first 19 days of April alone. In all, the island has recorded 20 deaths among 2,214 confirmed cases.

At Saturday’s meeting, CARIFTA 2021 Local Organising Committee (LOC) member Mia Bean spoke about a non-negotiable requirement that any unvaccinated visitor to Bermuda must be quarantined for 14 days.

Since the vaccination requirement would impact all Under-17 athletes as well as some of the Under-20s, it is a significant stumbling block.

Other potential challenges were put on the table, including the impact of positive COVID-19 tests during the Games, available hotel rooms, and timelines for booking charters and making payments.

After extensive discussions, the LOC was given until April 30 to report to the NACAC Council on the latest situation, with all the issues raised at the information session.

The LOC is expected to meet with Bermuda government officials before the month-end deadline.

The Games, first held in 1972, are set to be staged in Bermuda for the fifth time.

During the 2004 renewal in Bermuda, Jamaican Usain Bolt signalled his future greatness at just 17, when he became the first junior athlete to break the 20-second mark over 200 metres, crossing the winning line in 19.3 seconds.

CMC

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