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Events fall victim to Covid-19

As the world attempts to get to grips with the Covid-19 outbreak, the escalating threat of the virus has already wreaked havoc across Bermuda's sporting calendar.

Although there are no confirmed cases of the virus on island to date, a number of Bermuda's sporting organisations and associations have already been forced to face the realisation of cancelling major scheduled events, while the ever-growing pressure is building on others to begrudgingly follow suit.

Those concerns remain over the Carifta Games, which have grown greater after the confirmed withdrawal of Antigua & Barbuda afters talks between Minister of Sport Daryll Matthew, Prime Minister Gaston Browne and other relevant health ministers and officials, despite having no reported cases.

With more than 129,500 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 4,500 deaths worldwide, Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association president, conceded that the Games, scheduled from April 10 to 13, were at the mercy of the powers that be.

“We are being guided by the Government and health officials,” Raynor said. “We are constantly in communication with all of the Caribbean countries as it is not just Bermuda who make the final decision, but will also have input from the other countries as well.

“Of course, if Government states we cannot host the games in April, that would be that, but we are in discussion with our North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association organisation about a possible Plan B or C.

“This is an ongoing discussion, with things happening quickly day by day. It is a very unfortunate situation for not only us, but the world of sports.”

Meanwhile, Ben Smith, the Bermuda swimming head coach, confirmed he is also waiting on guidance before any decision will be made on whether or not a team will be sent to compete at the Carifta Swimming Championships in Barbados from April 11 to 14 — should the competition get the green light.

“We need to get information from organisers before making any decisions,” he said.

Another major sporting event under threat is MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda, scheduled to take place a week after the Carifta Games, on April 18 and 19. Those doubts increased after the International Triathlon Union and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council postponed the first of the ITU World Triathlon Series events, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, as a protective measure against the spread of the virus.

However, despite fears, the ITU and Bermuda organisers have so far confirmed the event will go ahead as planned next month, with Antonio Fernandez Arimany, the ITU secretary-general, stating the situation would be monitored with guidance from the World Health Organisation.

Although those events await their fate, a host of other upcoming events have been chalked off the calendar already, with the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association confirming that it has cancelled the Bermuda Open championships.

The annual tournament, an official stop on the PSA Pro World Tour, was scheduled to run from March 17 to 21, and would have involved 28 international players from 18 countries.

However, because of the increasing threat of Covid-19, Patrick Foster, the BSRA director of squash, said an early decision to cancel was necessary to help protect not only the players, but also the families who were set to host competitors.

“We couldn't risk those families and the potential risks of hosting the players, so we decided to make the early call,” Foster said. “No players will be arriving on island and no tournament will be taking place.

“It is a big annual event for everybody involved and so it was a tough decision to make, but seeing everything that is happening in the world and how quickly things are changing, I'm glad we took that decision early.

“I'm in no doubt decisions will have to be made on other events taking place on island and people are going to have to make those decisions. I'm just pleased we made ours early.”

Another event to follow suit is the Ariel Re Bermuda International 7s tournament, which has also been cancelled.

The tournament was scheduled to take place at the National Stadium this weekend, with the best in high school and college rugby teams from the United States, Canada and a representative Bermuda teams taking part.

Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association, president (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

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Published March 13, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 13, 2020 at 11:59 am)

Events fall victim to Covid-19

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