For the second year running the CARIFTA Games have been cancelled.

The 49th edition of the games that were scheduled to be held in Bermuda in August, was cancelled because the host country was not willing to amend its Covid-19 regulations to accommodate athletes arriving for competition.

According to the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC), they arrived at the decision to cancel as the Government of Bermuda maintained that the 14-day quarantine for unvaccinated visitors is non-negotiable, making it highly impractical for there to be an Under-17 category as is the norm and for NACAC to stage the region’s premier junior track and field meet.

Carifta 2020 was not staged because of the global pandemic and Bermuda transferred its hosting responsibilities to 2021. Originally scheduled for Easter weekend, this year’s edition was first postponed to July 2-4 and then to August 13-15. Now, Carifta 2021 has been struck from the NACAC calendar.

“The NACAC Council regrets the decision to cancel Carifta 2021. For the second year running, young, hard-working athletes have been denied the opportunity to represent their respective territories at the world’s premier junior track and field competition,” said a statement from the association.

“To the region’s young athletes, keep training. For those who are eligible for the July 9-11 NACAC U18 & U23 Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, we encourage you to maintain focus on this competition.”

The 2021 Gibson/McCook Relays that was scheduled for March 27, have been cancelled.

The decision to cancel this year’s event was made at a meeting of the Gibson Relays Organizing Committee on Wednesday. They cited the “catastrophic rise” in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country in recent weeks.

Since its inaugural staging in 1973, the Relays were previously cancelled on four occasions - 1983, 1997, 1999 and 2002.

The news will be a blow to Jamaica’s track and field athletes many of whom are preparing for the Olympic Games in July as well as the Carifta Games and World U20 Championships in August as it follows on the heels of the Jamaican government’s decision to withdraw approval for the hosting of the Central Athletics Championships and Eastern Athletics Champions in the past few days.

The organizers said they are optimistic the Relays will resume next year.

“We look forward to hosting this event in 2022. Thanks to our many sponsors and other stakeholders for their continued support of this 48-year-old event which was planning its 45th staging.  Since its inaugural staging in 1973, the Relays were previously cancelled on four occasions (1983, 1997, 1999 and 2002).

“The Gibson McCook Relays Organizing Committee regret this decision but feel certain that fans of track and field in general and GMR fans will understand and support this decision.

“We would like to extend our condolences to the families of those who have lost loved ones and we empathize with those who are suffering from COVID-19. We implore all Jamaicans to follow the necessary protocols in order to stay safe and finally, we encourage the taking of the vaccine which will help to prevent further spread and hasten our return to a level of normality.”

NACAC President Mike Sands believes that the new August dates set for the 2021 Carifta Games could possibly create opportunities for a second tier of athletes to compete at the Games, in light of the more elite athletes opting to compete at the World U20 Champions set for Nairobi, Kenya from August 17-22.

NACAC announced on Thursday that the 2021 Carifta Games are to be held in Bermuda from August 13-15 due to the Caribbean Examinations Council setting the 2021 external examination dates from June 14-July16. Those dates overlap with the previous dates of July 2-4 for the Carifta Games.

Responding to whether fewer athletes would turn out for the Games because of how close they were to the World Championships, Sands said it was a concern, it was also an opportunity.

“That is a fix that we cannot resolve other than the fact that it does two things; one, countries are going to have to make a determination where their athletes will compete, but having said that we must understand that for the Carifta Games there is not a set qualifying standard,” he said.

“What you may have is that individual member federations have standards for their athletes to achieve, and so as opposed to the World U20 championships where there is a set standard, and so the question remains, how many of our area athletes would make those standards, particularly those from the smaller countries that may have a number of athletes making the standards for the world event.

“If that is the case, it now means that the member federations would have to make a determination whether some of their athletes go to Carifta and the qualifiers go to the WorldU20 championships.”

That scenario, he suggested, opened the door for a “second level of athletes that may not have qualified” for the global championships but who would become available for the 49th edition of the regional youth championships.

He cited athletes from Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados who would be among those benefitting from the situation.

Garth Gayle, President of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA), on the prompting of the NACAC president said his federation would be reviewing the matter carefully with the intention of sending its very best athletes to both competitions.

“President Sands, the options that you have put forward would have been very clear to us but let me say from the get-go the JAAA will be supporting both events. We are Caribbean and therefore Carifta is critical to us and to youth development,” Gayle said.

“We are also part of the global stage and so our elite junior athletes would also have that option to move onto the world event. We believe it is doable and we do not see a major issue.”

He said the athlete and his or her coach would essentially choose which event they would want to compete in.

Since it's inception in 1972, Jamaica has won the Carifta Games on more than 40 occasions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2021 Carifta Games scheduled for Bermuda has been pushed back to August 13-15, 2021, Mike Sands, President of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) announced today during a virtual press conference.

The regional junior track and field championship, which will celebrate its 49th edition, was to have taken place from April 3-5 but was moved to July 2-4 because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, according to the NACAC president, the decision to push the dates to August stems from the move by the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) to have external examinations between June 14 and July 16, dates which overlap the previously scheduled dates for the Carifta Games. CXC's decision was forced by adjusted school times across the region caused by the pandemic.

Meanwhile, Donna Raynor, President of the Bermuda Athletics Association and Bermuda’s Carifta Games Local Organizing Committee (LOC) said she was ‘floored’ by the decision to move the games to August but indicated that there are several upsides to hosting the games then.

She indicated that by then, member countries should have been able to bring infections under control and that most, if not all, would have had access to the vaccines. The athletes will also have more time to prepare, she said.

Raynor also advised that hotels in the country have also indicated that they will have rooms available to accommodate the visiting teams.

That said, she indicated the safety protocols were being prepared that will be forwarded to the Bermudan government for approval. Those protocols would include that athletes are tested three days prior to arriving in Bermuda. Of course, that could change, depending on what the state of the pandemic is in the weeks leading up to the games, she said.

At this point, she said, no fans would be allowed into the stadium hosting the games but said that also could change depending on the prevailing conditions in the weeks leading up to the Games.

Raynor also indicated that the delay would not necessarily significantly add to the costs of hosting the games, indicating that she only envisions additional expenses in the form of enhanced medical facilities and personnel.

With that in mind, there will either be no opening ceremony or a significantly scaled-down one, in an effort to contain spending.

Sands said that NACAC would lend financial support to offset additional costs associated with the delays.

The president said work was ongoing behind the scenes to help member nations minimize costs associated with travelling to Bermuda. He said NACAC was considering having athletes travel to a centralized location from where they would be flown directly to Bermuda.

 

 

 

 

 

The 2021 Carifta Games will not be staged on the traditional Easter weekend. Instead, the regional junior track and field championships will take place between July 2 and 4, in Bermuda.

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