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Pacers denied opportunity to celebrate anniversary in style

Previous outing: The 9 to 10 girls relay team including Lashee Jones, left, Jaeda Grant, Arima Turner, Ellise Dickinson and Karis Brooks pictured on their trip to the East Coast Invitational Track Meet in 2018. It is unlikely the Pacers will travel to the competition this year

On what should be a busy final build-up to their 26th Skyport Magic Mile tomorrow, the day will pass by quietly as the organisers, Bermuda Pacers Track Club, accept the reality of another cancelled event because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last year’s event was called off for the first time and it is also unlikely the club will mark its 40th year in existence with another trip to Raleigh, North Carolina this summer to compete in the annual Russell E Blunt East Coast Invitational track meet.

Last year’s missed trip would have been the 39th participation for the Pacers at the meet, the 2019 event being another productive one for the club with the team bringing back 28 medals, including three gold medals by Johndell Cumberbatch in the 3,000, 1,500 and 800 metres to win the Outstanding Athlete award for the 17 to 18 boys.

Wayne Raynor, president of the Pacers, admits restrictions and protocols makes it difficult for the club to be able to send a team to Raleigh in the summer. The club was also hoping to send a team to a meet in Canada.

“We’re very disappointed that the events have to be called off in this our 40th year,” Raynor said.

“Since we made the announcement [of the Skyport Magic Mile] I haven’t had any feedback from the general public, I guess they somewhat expected it with the state of the coronavirus.

“I suspect everybody is toeing the Covid line, I think they understand there isn’t much that we can do under the circumstances.”

With so many positive cases in the US, with deaths passing the half-million mark earlier this week, travelling with a group of more than 30 youngsters, as well as chaperones, would have been challenging for Pacers.

“Looking at the Covid situation in the US, it would have been very difficult to convince parents to allow their child to travel,” Raynor added. “You would have to quarantine, which doubles the cost of accommodation right away.

“Instead of it being a six-day trip, it turns into an 18-day trip. We haven’t heard from the organisers what additional day-to-day Covid guidelines we would have to follow.”

Raynor added: “There are other logistics like accommodation and food and taking a large group out to eat and most restaurants can’t sit you in.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to be doing any sort of travelling this year. What happens if there is a positive test on day three or four? It could be a minor so somebody will have to stay with them.”

The Government is getting a handle on the number of Covid cases, though protocol still needs to be followed as competitive sports gets set to resume in the coming weeks.

“They were saying we have 5,000 people fully vaccinated and 15,000 got their first jab, so hopefully we can get to the number that they want to by the end of March,” Raynor said.

“In training we have bubbles, one group goes to the Arboretum and the other two groups stay inside the stadium, so that we comply with the guidelines of the stadium and the Health Department.

“We take the temperatures of the children — that’s my role, to be up there for 4 o’clock, take the attendance and test the children. Then the coaches coach after that.”

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Published February 26, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated February 25, 2021 at 10:39 pm)

Pacers denied opportunity to celebrate anniversary in style

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