Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports says she supports the country’s intention to host the 2022 Carifta Games but warns that that will only happen once the necessary approvals and required funding are achieved.

President of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) had announced that his association had been given the green light to host the Games next Easter during a Special Congress of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association on Saturday.

Jamaica’s move came after Guyana, which was supposed to host in 2022, indicated that it would be unable to fulfil its obligation.

On Wednesday, Minister Grange appeared to back Gayle saying it would be a timely venture considering that Jamaica celebrates 60 years of independence in 2022.

“I am in full support of Jamaica hosting the 2022 Carifta Games as a part of the country’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with the National Stadium in Kingston being the venue,” she said about the competition that would take place between April 16 – 18.

“When news came that the selected host for 2022, Guyana, was unable to fulfil the obligation, it was felt that the only country which could step up to the plate at such short notice would be Jamaica. Not just because of the ongoing dominance of our athletes, but because of our experience in staging similar events with athletes in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Following the cancellation of the 110-year-old ISSA Boys and Girls Championships because of the pandemic in March 2020, Jamaica successfully staged the championships in May and then the National Athletic Championships in June. The island also hosted several track meets including the Jamaica Olympic Association-backed Olympic Destiny Series leading up to the national championships.

“We are very proud of the successful staging of the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships (CHAMPS) earlier this year. We have no doubt that we are equal to the task of staging the Carifta Games next year,” Minister Grange said.

“With the cancellation of this important event (Carifta) for 2020 and 2021, junior athletes have missed out on the opportunity to gauge where they are at this critical stage of their development. Therefore, I feel that no effort should be spared in us trying to host the 2022 event.

“I have indicated to the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) that as Minister I would do my best to assist in making it possible. Carifta is of course the premier event for junior athletes across the CARICOM region with athletes competing in two age categories: under-17 and under-20.”

However, the minister was quick to indicate that all the necessary elements needed to be in place before the government would be able to give its full blessing.

“I must say, however, that although Jamaica is interested in hosting the event, it is subject to several approvals and sign-offs as well as the requisite funding. The Ministry is therefore working very closely with the JAAA and NCACAC to satisfy all the requirements in order for me to make an official announcement,” she said.

 “It is in our best interest to do everything to have the Games held here.  Among all the other good reasons, our tourism, hotels in Kingston in particular, will definitely benefit.”  

 

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.”

With recent spikes in the number of Covid-19 cases in Bermuda, a final decision on the fate of the 2021 Carifta Games will be announced in May.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In its first information session, the NACAC Athletes Commission earlier this month, reaffirmed its commitment to becoming particularly active, increasing its visibility and working with all its athletes to address their issues and concerns.

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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