Guernsey Island Games falls victim to Covid-19
The International Island Games Association has been forced to postpone next summer's NatWest International Island Games in Guernsey because of Covid-19.
The announcement was made Jorgen Pettersson, chair of the IIGA, at the association's virtual annual meeting at the weekend.
The multi-sport event for small islands was due to be held in Guernsey between July 3 and 9, with 3,500 competitors and officials to be involved.
“This decision was not made lightly and was based on the responses received from the recent survey undertaken with Member Islands, coupled with the best medical advice that could be obtained,” Petterson said.
“First and foremost, in making the decision was the wellbeing of all the Member Island's sports people and the impact that any importation of the [Covid-19] virus into Guernsey would have on their Island.
“We have waited for even the slightest possible opportunity to go on with the Games in 2021, but we have to acknowledge the facts. The pandemic is not over, the quarantine-regulations will continue to make planning forward very, very difficult and even impossible.
“Therefore, it would not be fair to ask the Member Islands or the Host Island to commit financially to an event next summer. This has been a difficult decision to accept for all of us.
“I am truly sorry for this decision, but I also know the determination in our island communities, and I am convinced we will come back in friendly competition under the umbrella of NatWest International Island Games as soon as possible.”
Dame Mary Perkins, chair of the Guernsey 2021 organising committee added: “The Organising Committee have been contingency planning since March and have had several meetings with Dr Nicola Brink and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC) as well as communicating with the other Member Islands.
“In addition, we have used the World Health Organisation's ‘Planning for large scale events' guidance as a template for our decision-making process.
“In all of our planning, the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers, spectators, supporters and our Guernsey community have always been our priority, and will continue to be so.”
Julia Bowditch, the games director, added some information about why the decision to postpone has been made now.
“Whereas we were very advanced with our planning before the pandemic, there are now many other factors to be considered — as well as the obvious health and travel implications, many of the sporting associations and governing bodies are issuing new guidelines for hosting sporting events which we do not have the resources and facilitates to implement.
“The other thing we must remember is that we have been very lucky in Guernsey in that most of our sporting activity has been able to start again. Many of the other Member Islands are still unable to get their teams together and train, especially with the contact sports.”
Turning his attention to what is next Petterson stressed the fact that next year's Games have not been cancelled, as he looked also reflected on the Island Games in 2023.
“We have to continue our forward planning. You must remember that we are dealing with two confirmed Host Islands — Guernsey in 2021 and Orkney in 2023,” he added.
“The IIGA Executive Committee will discuss the future Games with Guernsey and Orkney and our Member Islands before we make a decision on the dates for the next Games.
“Whatever happens, our main focus is for all our Member Islands to stay healthy and well. We would like to stress the importance of the fact that we are not cancelling. We are adjusting the map in order to make it compliant with the current reality.”
Bermuda's 48-strong team won 14 medals at the previous Games in Gibraltar in 2019, finishing seventeenth out of 22 islands.