Organizers have postponed the CARIFTA Games until August, representing a third rescheduling of the prominent regional amateur track and field championships.
Traditionally staged over the Easter weekend annually, the showpiece was pushed back until July but will now be staged in Bermuda from August 13-15.
According to organisers, the new dates were in an effort to Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams across the region which have been scheduled for June 14 to July 16.
“Our Games were scheduled for July 2-4 and … we received official word several days ago that the CXC exams have been scheduled for June 14 to July 16,” president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), Mike Sands said on Thursday.
“Of course, I need not tell you that it fell smack in the middle of our planning and would directly affect the vast majority, if not all, of our athletes. We undertook a series of emergency meetings to look at whatever dates were available.
“We also had continuous meetings with the president of Bermuda National Athletics Association, Donna Raynor, and we had no choice at this stage, based on consultation with our members, and arrived at the date of August 13-15 for the new CARIFTA Games.”
Raynor, the CARIFTA 2021 committee chairwoman, admitted to being “absolutely floored” by the new development but said the latest postponement allowed more time to allow for an improvement in the COVID-19 situation.
Bermuda had only 12 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday but Caribbean countries like Jamaica, a prominent participant in the Games, have struggled to contain the spread of the virus and had over 13 000 active cases and 475 deaths, also as of Wednesday.
“When I received an email from the NACAC general secretary advising of the dates of the CXC exams, I was absolutely floored as this meant a change to the CARIFTA date,” Raynor said.
“We looked at the dates and felt there were some positives. Hopefully by August, Bermuda and the Caribbean countries will have a better hold on the COVID pandemic.”
She continued: “Most countries will have received the vaccine by August and this will give us in Bermuda more time to organise, especially the medical areas of the Games, which is important for any sporting event right now. And we have to get it right.”
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region last year forced the Games to be scrapped and even though the fallout from the virus was still continuing, Raymor said there was no desire on the part of stakeholders to see the event cancelled again.
“As we know this last year has been a challenging year with many events either cancelled or moved to later dates,” she pointed out.
“The NACAC team was called together immediately and we discussed options based on the NACAC and World Athletics calendar of events.
“There were two dates bandied around – May 28-30, which I advised was definitely out as it was too close to the original date and I still didn’t think we would have enough information regarding COVID and where we are.
“Then we talked about August 13-15, and all agreed that if this date doesn’t work, then we will have to look at cancelling the Games, and no one wanted to cancel.”