Calendar in chaos over Covid-19
The immediate sporting calendar was thrown into further doubt last night after the Bermuda Government urged all sport gatherings of 50 people or more to be postponed because of the seemingly imminent threat of the coronavirus pandemic.
While there were no confirmed cases of the Covid-19 virus on island as of press time, with more than 145,000 confirmed positive tests and 5,000 deaths worldwide, Bermuda's sporting bodies have been forced already to face the realisation that major events will have to be rescheduled, if not cancelled.
The Carifta Games were the first to get the chop yesterday — postponed until further notice — following this morning by MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda [see separate story], while pressure has built on others to, begrudgingly, follow suit.
That pressure will have grown greater after the early-evening press conference at the Cabinet Office in which David Burt, the Premier, called on those sporting bodies and organisations to take greater precaution to stop the potential spread of the virus.
“It is important that we, as a country, learn the lessons from other countries that are managing actual confirmed cases and are taking clear steps to protect their citizens,” he said.
“This government is determined to do all we can to prevent harm to our local population. We do not have a confirmed case in Bermuda, but we are preparing for the worst-case scenario and taking steps to reduce the potential for any unknown community spread.
“We are urging event organisers and sporting bodies with anticipated gatherings of more than 50 people to postpone their events.”
The announcement followed earlier confirmation that the 49th Carifta Games, scheduled for April 10 to 13, had been postponed.
Bermuda was preparing to host 27 countries from the Caribbean region, but, after Antigua & Barbuda confirmed their withdrawal and doubts were cast over other nations such as Bahamas and Jamaica, who cancelled their world-renowned Champs track meet this week when two positive tests were confirmed, action had to be taken.
“This has been a very long week, with many twists and turns, but we feel we have come to the right decision for everyone involved in these Games,” said Donna Raynor, chairwoman of the Carifta Games 2020 local organising committee.
“We would never have predicted an occurrence of this nature a week ago. We were deep in preparations, making our final adjustments. We were ready to host the Carifta Games, and ready to welcome the 27 countries to our shores.
“The main thing we didn't want to do was cancel, so our intention is that some time this year we will host the Carifta Games.”
Meanwhile, Ben Smith, the Bermuda swimming head coach, confirmed the Bermuda Amateur Swimming Association Short Course Championships have been postponed.
“Due to the announcement by the Government of Bermuda to postpone all gatherings of more than 50 people due to the Covid-19 virus the competition will be postponed,” Smith said of the event which started on Thursday.
“We are sorry for the inconvenience this will cause, but the safety of our members is our first priority.”
Smith is also waiting on guidance before any decision can 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.
Earlier, the Bermuda Open Squash Championships were cancelled, while the Bermuda Rugby Football Union joined the exodus by suspending activity at all levels, including international events, domestic leagues, schools and youth programmes.
Although those events have decided their fate, it is still unclear as to whether other major events on the horizon will be also chalked off.
While the Carifta Games have been postponed, Raynor has confirmed that the two-day track meet, which was to serve as the final trial ahead of the selection deadline on Monday, will still go ahead at the National Sports Centre this weekend.
Another event set to proceed unfettered is the Bermuda Optimist Dinghy Association's second and final series of trials in the Great Sound before the Optimist World Championships in Italy this summer, while a full schedule of Premier Division and First Division fixtures remain on schedule over the course of the weekend.