CARIFTA Games in peril

This is the final CARIFTA Games year for Barbadian Kansas State University based quarter-miler, Kyle Gale.
Photo by George Alleyne

Dangers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have put the largest Caribbean and beyond sport event, CARIFTA Games, in jeopardy with a possible postponement or cancellation for the second year running.

If the Games, tentatively set for April 03 to 05 in Bermuda, were to happen it would bring together 27 regional territories but despite a strong desire to have the event organizers are expressing uncertainty over the date.

In 2020 the governing body for the Games, North American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC), was forced to cancel the event which was set for Hamilton, Bermuda in early April owing to ravages of COVID-19. Officials had optimistically scheduled the sport for April this year but are now unsure whether it could happen though they remain cautiously optimistic and thinking of perhaps shifting the date to later in the year instead of outright cancellation as happened last year.

The Nassau Guardian has quoted NACAC President, Mike Sands saying, “we are still moving full steam ahead but there are several challenges that we are faced with.”

“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.”

He said that the Association is conducting a survey among member countries to see if that early April 2021 date is practical based on how the pandemic is affecting individual territories.

“COVID-19 is still out there and there … have been a spike in certain parts of the region. We’re looking at several options,” he said, adding, “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.”

Cancellation of the 2020 Games severely affected the Bermuda planners financially as they had already pumped money in preparation for hosting and NACAC is anxious that this year does not see a repeat.

That termination of the 49th edition of the Games also affected several athletes not only because their training for the event went to waste but also that competitions carry age limits of Under-17 and Under-20.

The Barbados Nation reported that five of that island’s athletes were affected because 2020 was their last year in the Games as they had reached the outer age limit.

Five Bajan athletes will be hoping that the Games are run off this year, their last, as they are on the verge of the Under-20 limit.

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