Carifta Games dates may be changed, Raynor reveals
Moving the 2021 Carifta Games to later in the year now seems to be a better option for host country Bermuda, says Donna Raynor, president of the of the Bermuda National Athletics Association and chairwoman of the local organising committee, said yesterday.
The Games, postponed this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, has been rescheduled for the Easter weekend, April 3 to 5, as Bermuda was kept as the host country.
However, a recent spike in positive Covid cases, both in the United States and here in Bermuda, has raised some concerns for both the host country and the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association about the ability to stage the Games in just over three months time.
The local organising committee met with member federations last week to discuss possibly putting the Games back to later in the year.
“We had a Nacac meeting with all the member federations last week and that was one of the discussions during the meeting,” Raynor revealed.
“We put together a position paper and Nacac is going to send out a survey to all the member federations with some suggested dates. Once the responses come back, then we’ll put all that information together and see if we can come up with something that is agreeable to everybody.
“The other countries may come back and say they prefer us to leave it in April. But in our position paper we basically stated we think it would be better to move the date back, to give everybody time to get themselves together.
Mike Sands, president of Nacac who was involved in last week’s meeting, said in an article in the Nassau Guardian this week, that cancelling the Games is not an option, though it could be postponed.
“At this time, we are still moving full steam ahead but there are several challenges that we are faced with,” Sands, a Bahamian, told the Guardian.
“First of all, we have to look at the established protocols regarding Covid-19 in the host country. Secondly, we have to respect the protocols in the countries of the established member federations and how it pertains to travel in and out of those countries.
“At our last meeting, we took a position to conduct a survey among the membership to determine the viability of the date in question and whether or not that date is doable.
“Covid-19 is still out there and there would have been a spike in certain parts of the region. We’re looking at several options, but I can tell you that cancellation is not an option at this time. It’s just a matter of staying with the current date or switching to a later date.”
Bermuda’s recent increase in Covid cases has not gone unnoticed in the Caribbean, as the article suggested, noting that Bermuda is one of the few countries in the region still experiencing new cases of Covid-19 on a daily basis.
“There are 200 active cases, which is a relatively large number for a tiny nation of just over 60,000 people,” the article read.
Some 28 countries were expected to compete in the 49th edition of the Carifta Games, the top junior track and field event in the region.
“We could be as cautiously optimistic as much as we want, but the reality is that we are facing a second wave,” Sands said.
“By the first week in January, we expect to come to a decision as it relates to the date of the Carifta Games, but for now, all I could tell you is that cancellation is not an option at this time.
“Our stance is to be more inclusive. There is constant communication with the Bermuda LOC [local organising committee] and the member federations.
“That is a major part of this exercise. At the end of the day we are going to determine the best fit for the Games. That is the major junior event for our area and we certainly would want to see it come to fruition.”
Raynor admits potentially new dates have to be carefully considered. Carifta is usually held during the Easter holiday weekend. “We’ve got to look at the Nacac calendar to make sure it doesn’t clash with other events already on the schedule,” she pointed out.
“April is just around the corner and with us moving it gives more time to get this [Covid] thing under control. That was what we had in our position paper as well, that Bermuda has an increase in cases right now and we will probably be in a better predicament if we move it back.
“This is the first time that we have missed a Carifta Games, so we want to see what we can salvage. One of the questions is would we be in a financially bad position if we have it and my response is no, that we would probably be in a worst position if we don’t have it.
“If we push for April, we’re going to be stressed out, watching what is going on in Bermuda, the States and the islands. Us saying let’s move it to later relieves a lot of that stress.”