KINGSTON, Jamaica – The spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in the postponement of premier track and field meet, Racers Grand Prix, but officials have expressed hope it can be held in August.
The fifth staging of the meet, which was awarded gold status during the newly formed 2020 World Athletics Continental Tour, was set to be held at the National Stadium on June 13.
However, chairman of the organising committee Glen Mills informed World Athletics in an April 2 letter that the meet would be deferred because of the ferocity of the virus, local and global restrictions on travelling and gatherings, quarantine procedures, and the inconclusive timeline of the impact of the virus.
“It is now clear that our only choice is to postpone the date of this year’s meeting of the Racers Grand Prix – Kingston Continental Tour Gold meeting,” said Mills, who is also president of Racers Track Club.
“We are now hoping to be able to reschedule the meeting for a date in the latter half of August. Of course, this is subject to the agreement of World Athletics, in keeping with your overall schedule. It is also subject to the availability of the stadium and the hotel on this new date.”
The meet was one of 10 in the new series designed to accommodate athletes from several disciplines cut from the Diamond League for 2020. These included the triple jump, discus, 3,000-metre steeplechase and 200 metre. For these core disciplines, ranking points would have been allotted at the same level as the Diamond League.
“We remain grateful that the world body recognised the type of meet that we were putting on, which has been of the highest quality,” said Mills. “And though the postponement of the event is unfortunate, once we receive the all-clear, we will ensure the meet delivers on every level.”
“We encourage athletes to follow the World Health Organization guidelines and those of their local leadership to reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus. And we also encourage them to focus on their well-being and to find innovative methods to stay fit during this period,” he added.
Among the athletes who had confirmed their participation at the Racers Grand Prix were 200m World champion Noah Lyles of the United States and world record 400m holder and Olympic champion Wayde Van Niekerk of South Africa.
The World Athletics Continental Tour series was set to begin on May 10 in Tokyo, Japan and would also have included the Fanny Blankers Koen Games in Hengelo, Netherlands; the Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland; and the Skolimowska Memorial in Silesia, Poland.