COVID-19 has its first sporting casualty in Barbados; the Powerade Barbados Secondary Schools’ Athletic Championships (BSSAC).
Mere hours after Minister of Health Lieutenant Colonel Jeffrey Bostic revealed that the island had recorded its first two cases of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, BSSAC’s assistant meet director Andrew Brathwaite broke the news that the highly anticipated meet had been called off.
It is only the second time in BSSAC’s 35-year history that the event has been cancelled. In 2013 the meet was not held due to the unavailability of the National Stadium.
In a press release, Brathwaite said the decision to cancel the meet was based heavily on Government’s restriction of social gatherings exceeding 100 persons.
“In light of the statement of the Minister of Health regarding the confirmation of the presence of the COVID-19 in Barbados and with regard to the restriction of gatherings exceeding 100 persons, the BSSAC planning committee wishes to announce the cancellation of all events from the Powerade BSSAC Championships. Therefore, the events scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on March 18, 19 and 20 will not now take place,” he said.
“Recognizing the serious nature of our current reality, the BSSAC committee wishes to indicate that the health and safety of sponsors, patrons, service providers, officials and coaches, as well as athletes, is our highest priority at this time.”
Brathwaite explained that persons who had already purchased tickets would be refunded.
However, track and field was not the only sport to be affected as the Barbados Football Association (BFA), the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association (BABA) and the Barbados Turf Club (BTC), all suspended action in their respective disciplines.
BFA president Randy Harris told Barbados TODAY that the detection of COVID-19 had not only forced the suspension of all its leagues, but had also pushed back the date for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was scheduled to take place on Sunday.
Harris said while the season had not been cancelled the association would be directed by Government as to when games could resume.
“We are directed by the Ministry of Health and the Government because obviously they are advising against gatherings of more than 100 people, which would affect our AGM and the football games, so we will have to wait for clearance on the way forward to go,” he noted.
It means the CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifiers against Guyana scheduled for March 26 and 31, will no longer be played.
In giving reasons for suspending the ongoing basketball season, BABA president Francis Williams said the safety of its stakeholders was of utmost importance.
“Careful consideration for the safety of all our stakeholders not to mention the varying levels of fear and concern generally has led to this unfortunate decision. We will continue to monitor the situation and it is our hope that the 2020 season can recommence in the not too distant future,” the press release added.
Meanwhile, chief executive officer (CEO) of the BTC, Rosette Peirce revealed that Saturday’s upcoming raceday had been cancelled.
She said the BTC was currently not in a position to “make a determination on the date on which racing will resume at this time”.
Fortunately, today’s National Primary Schools’ Athletic Championships (NAPSAC) was given the green light.
While it was delayed initially after the news about the COVID-19 cases broke, after some deliberation it was allowed to continue.
Richard Carter, the island’s COVID-19 Czar, explained that it was determined that no threat was posed to the athletes at NAPSAC.
“The NAPSAC I believe had already started when the communication was made. It would have been more difficult to go into the Stadium and stop those little ones from travelling.
“We would have evaluated this in terms of the risk. Now having identified two imported cases…that were immediately isolated, what is the risk to children at the National Stadium who would have had absolutely no contact with these persons and that was basically the decision that was made,” Carter explained.