Barbados’ junior athletes are feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Scores of athletes looking forward to participating in next month’s much anticipated 49th CARIFTA Games scheduled to be held in Bermuda, had their hopes dashed today when it was announced that the April 10-13 Games had been called off.
The decision was made by CARIFTA’s local organising committee in light of the growing threat of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Games, the region’s annual junior athletics showpiece, were set to take place at the National Sports Centre, but with the virus having more than 138,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 5,000 deaths worldwide, the decision to postpone was taken after advice from the World Health Organisation.
However, the Games could still be held later in the year.
“This has been a very long week with many twists and turns, but we feel we have come to the right decision for everyone involved in these games,” Donna Raynor, chairwoman of the CARIFTA local organising committee, said at a joint news conference with Sports Minister Lovitta Foggo.
“We do not want to take the opportunity away from athletes that have trained hard for these games. This is a yearly event etched deep in the history of Bermuda and the Caribbean countries. We would never have predicted an occurrence of this nature a week ago. We were deep in preparations and were ready to host the CARIFTA Games, and ready to welcome the 27 countries to our shores.
“The main thing we didn’t want to do was cancel, so our intention is that some time this year we will host the CARIFTA Games. We are not trying to anticipate any dates as yet; we are waiting to see what happens with this COVID-19. Once it seems all is clear, we will sit down and work out a date in conjunction with the other Caribbean countries,” Raynor added.
Foggo supported the decision, saying: “Obviously, we are disappointed at these developments and the postponement of the Carifta Games, but we certainly understand.
“These are unprecedented times but the health, safety and wellbeing of all of our young people in all of our regions is our first priority.”
Additionally, a Barbados Under-16 netball team was also left heartbroken after the news broke that the Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Tournament scheduled to begin later this month in St Vincent had been postponed until further notice.
Honorary Secretary of the Barbados Netball Association, Alicia Jemmott made the dreaded revelation in a press release today.
“Following the announcement by the Ministry of Health in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that they have confirmed their first case of COVID-19, the Caribbean Netball Association has advised that the Jean Pierre Caribbean Youth Tournament, which was scheduled to begin later this month, has been postponed until further notice.
“The CNA has given the assurance that they are committed to having the tournament and they will continue to monitor the emerging situation. They will advise of the new dates for the tournament once it is practical to do so,” the release stated.
There is also a cloud of uncertainty surrounding the CARIFTA Aquatics Championships, which was to commence on April 2 at the Aquatic Centre here in Barbados.
While president of the Barbados Aquatic Sports Association (BASA) Tony Selby has indicated that a decision as to whether the Championships will be held is expected shortly, it is anticipated the swimming event will also be called off.
Several countries including Antigua, Bahamas and Jamaica have indicated they will not be attending the Championships.
And yesterday, Cricket West Indies (CWI) chief executive Johnny Grave revealed that several upcoming tournaments were now in jeopardy because of the spread of the fatal virus.
It means Barbados’ Under-15 cricketers who were partaking in trial matches for the upcoming regional Under-15 competition slated to be held in Antigua, will most likely too be grounded. (RB/CMC)