Ill-fated Carifta Games rearranged yet again
The Carifta Games have been put back by a further month, it was confirmed yesterday.
Having already been postponed from last April because of the global pandemic, and rescheduled from this April to July, the popular youth athletics event will now be held from August 13 to 15, Mike Sands, the president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association said via videoconference.
The latest change is because of the Caribbean Examinations Council regional exams, which are scheduled to run from June 14 to July 16 and which involve many competing athletes.
“Our Games were scheduled for July 2 to 4 and, lo and behold, we received official word several days ago that the CXC exams have been scheduled for June14 to July 16,” Sands said.
The dates for the exams were announced only on March 1, after Caricom ministers of education and other regional education officials and CXC representatives held consultations.
“Of course, I need not tell you that it fell smack in the middle of our planning and would directly affect the vast majority, if not all, of our athletes,” Sands said. “We undertook a series of emergency meetings to look at whatever dates were available.
“We also had continuous meetings with the president of Bermuda National Athletics Association, Donna Raynor, and we had no choice at this stage, based on consultation with our members, and arrived at the date of August 13-15 for the new Carifta Games.”
Raynor, who has endured the frustration of a postponement of the 2020 Games and now a second date change in 2021, was caught off guard by the latest change.
“When I received an e-mail from the NACAC general secretary advising of the dates of the CXC exams, I was absolutely floored as this meant a change to the Carifta date,” said Raynor who is also chairwoman of Carifta 2021.
“We looked at the dates and felt there were some positives. Hopefully by August, Bermuda and the Caribbean countries will have a better hold on the Covid pandemic.
“Most countries will have received the vaccine by August and this will give us in Bermuda more time to organise, especially the medical areas of the Games, which is important for any sporting event right now. And we have to get it right!”
Raynor added: “This last year has been a challenging year with many events either cancelled or moved to later dates. The NACAC team was called together immediately and we discussed options based on the NACAC and World Athletics calendar of events.
“There were two dates bandied around — May 28-30, which I advised was definitely out as it was too close to the original date and I still didn’t think we would have enough information regarding Covid and where we are.
“Then we talked about August 13-15, and all agreed that if this date doesn’t work, then we will have to look at cancelling the Games, and no one wanted to cancel.
“We then discussed with our [Local Organising Committee] and there was some general agreement, but recognising this would not be easy. The Minister and PS [Permanent Secretary] of Youth, Culture and Sport were then notified.
“I received a note from president Seb Coe, of World Athletics, this morning and he gave us his full support, even though we know the World Under-20 Championships will happen the week after Carifta.”
The ever-changing situation with Covid has made it difficult for the local organising committee to plan some aspects of the Carifta Games, which Raynor admits will lbe different from previous Games.
“If we had Carifta today there would be no spectators, but hopefully by August there will be spectators in the stands,” she said.
“With this being said, as this question has been asked several times for persons who had purchased tickets for the Games in 2020, yes your tickets will be honoured at the Games, if we are able to have spectators, of course.
“Our weather is much more stable in August and we definitely would not have to worry about it being cold, as we do in April. It would be better for our athletes as well as some have just begun to train and compete.
“This gives them more time to reach each country’s Carifta standards. There are championships that have been scheduled after this date, so this will be a long and unusual season, but nothing has been normal these days.”
Raynor assured efforts are being made to secure hotel rooms during what is now the peak tourist season.
“We have contacted the hotels we have been working with regarding to the changing dates and they have advised there is availability during this period,” she explained.
“We have been working very closely with the Minister and PS of Youth, Culture and Sport and they have been advising us and sending regular updates regarding Covid guidelines.
“We are following the Government guidelines for this event and are currently producing the Carifta protocol document which will presented to Government for their input and approval.”
Raynor added that every effort is being made to ensure that Bermuda hosts a safe and successful Carifta Games.
“We are updating the Carifta countries on a regular basis to the Covid guideline updates on pre-arrival, arrival and stay while in Bermuda,” she said. “Mask wearing, physical distancing and vaccinations are stated throughout this document.
“We, the LOC in Bermuda, recognise that we have a difficult task ahead of us, but we are up for the challenge and will give 100 per cent. We do believe with the support of the LOC, NACAC, Government of Bermuda and World Athletics, we will make this happen, as long as the Covid pandemic plays its part and is good to us.”
An estimated 600 athletes from 27 countries are expected to compete in the 49th Carifta Games, which Bermuda is hosting for the fifth time.