No decision has yet been made by the Athletics Association of Barbados (AAB) as to whether a Barbados contingent will be attending next month’s CARIFTA Games in Bermuda.
President of the Bermuda National Athletics Association (BNAA) Donna Raynor announced yesterday that the CARIFTA Games, which is set to run from April 10-13 and expected to attract more than 600 athletes from 27 Caribbean countries, should not be affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) that is spreading across the globe.
Today Jamaica reported its first case of the deadly virus while there have already been reported cases in the Dominican Republic, Martinique, Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy.
While efforts to reach AAB president Catherine Jordan and Minister of Sports John King for comment proved unsuccessful, the AAB’s public relations officer Esther Maynard told Barbados TODAY that the association had not met to discuss the matter as yet.
“At this stage we haven’t discussed it as a council and if anybody at this stage is to speak on it it would be the president,” Maynard said in her brief response.
However, Alwyn Babb who was the head coach last year when the Games was held in Cayman Islands, told Barbados TODAY this was not the first time the association was faced with a tough decision.
He recalled that a tour to Kenya had been cancelled some while ago due to fears by the association.
He also pointed out that travelling to Bermuda would most likely mean passing through Miami.
The US has had almost 1000 confirmed cases and 30 deaths due to the virus.
Despite this, Babb said he was confident the AAB would make a decision in the best interest of the athletes.
“As a coach, if there is any threat to the health or to any athlete or management, then the decision taken should be in the best interest of those persons who have been selected,” he maintained.
“Also this is not the first time the national association had to take a decision as it relates to the wellbeing of management and athletes. Some time ago a decision was taken to not attend a meet in Kenya because there were rumours about the kidnapping of young girls.
“The association has always made the call in the interest of management and the athletes. I believe what has happened is that they have not yet met to elect a team…but I’m sure they are monitoring the situation,” Babb explained.
Just over 20 athletes from Barbados have met the CARIFTA qualifying standards.
Giving an update on the CARIFTA Games yesterday, Raynor said she did not expect the COVID-19 situation would disrupt the staging.
“As of now, all systems are go for CARIFTA. The countries are having their final trials…and we’re all moving ahead as if it is going to take place,” she told the Royal Gazette newspaper.
Raynor added that the matter was addressed at a recent meeting of the local organizing committee (LOC).
“Fortunately for us, most of the athletes are coming in from the Caribbean and flying in on charters, not flying through the United States…. We’re just really keeping our fingers crossed that we can get through the next couple of weeks and that CARIFTA is on,” Raynor said, adding that she was hoping none of the countries would pull out of the Games.
“I just want to have the event, we’ve put a lot of work into it and are ready to go. Hopefully, we can get CARIFTA off the ground.”
The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, slated for July 24 to August 9, are under threat due to the spread of COVID-19 globally.