The Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) is taking every precaution necessary including the setting up of a task force for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, says vice-president Cameron Burke.
The task force, Burke said, will include Dr Adrian Lorde and Dr Karen Ward who is chairperson of the Sports Medicine Association. Ward will also be Barbados’ chief medical officer for the Olympics.
During an interview with Barbados TODAY, Burke said that the BOA’s plan is to ensure that those representing the country will be given priority to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. None of the national athletes has as yet qualified for the Olympics.
“Making sure that those people travelling are on the priority list for the vaccine. Those are things we need to be on top of when we are ready. Right now, we have no athletes qualified for the Olympics. Because of COVID, the qualifiers would have been postponed.
“Obviously, the athletes are still working towards qualification and then if there is no qualification, then there is a ranking system. We will still want our athletes to have an opportunity to be part of that process,” Burke said.
“The plan is to make sure we are ready going into the Olympics. Everything will be centred around the Olympics. So, we plan to make sure we are ready to ensure the safety of our team going into the Olympics.
“We have set up a task force to come up with a plan in case any of our athletes encounter COVID-19. Obviously, our plan would have to tie into what Japan is planning, what is done locally, and we need to have a plan that is flexible.
He added: “A plan that we can adjust to meet the protocols that are laid down by the various entities that we would interact with.”
Burke also said the possibility of the Olympics being cancelled this year is always a consideration. But indicated that the BOA still has to be ready. Even if a cancellation occurs, Burke noted that the athletes on BOA’s funding list would still receive their monthly stipend.
“Even if we don’t get people qualifying, Barbados would still take part in the games. The IOC through their wildcard system makes sure that every NOC (National Olympic Committee) participates in the games. So, we still have to be ready.
“The Japanese are saying the games will come off. But that is a fluid situation. Japan has been one of the countries that have not really been affected by the virus like other countries. They are getting spikes but they are managing especially well.
“Even before COVID, wearing masks was a big thing in Japan because of pollution and all such like. So, it was nothing new to the Japanese people that they had to wear masks. They were taking those protective actions long before COVID. They just stepped it up now,” Burke said.
The BOA’s mandate is to assist with the development of sport and Burke made it clear that 2021 will be no different.
Last year the BOA allocated BDS$9, 000 to the Barbados Wrestling Association for the purchasing of mats. There are also other associations and federations he revealed that received funding including the Barbados Aquatic Sports Association.
In fact, Burke mentioned that some funds allocated last year were not used because events were cancelled.
“With or without COVID, that will be our mantra. Just before this new year like in November, the BOA met with all of our national federations. We discussed with them their plans for 2021 and how we were going to fund their activities.
“We do the administration grant where they take that grant and use it how ever they want. We also have the competitions grant. Last year we would have allocated funds for that and a lot of those competitions would have been cancelled. There were some national federations who still had competitions and their funds were allocated to them to assist with that,” Burke explained.
He added: “We would not be withdrawing any opportunity to assist the athletes in their development processes. Apart from wrestling, we have assisted swimming with the installation of new pumps. They are also preparing for CARIFTA this year and we would have assisted them financially.
“We assisted shooting with the installation of new equipment. Clear target is now an Olympic-recognised facility where Olympic teams can host qualifying tournaments, Olympic teams can now come and train here because of our injection of funds.”