We anxiously await the details for the staging of CARIFTA Games, Mr Sands


We anxiously await the details for the staging of CARIFTA Games, Mr Sands

The Sporting Edge

With Paul Reid

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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Many track and field fans were caught completely by surprise last weekend when the president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), Mike Sands, said they were going ahead with preparation for the CARIFTA Games to be held in Bermuda, next year.

On Sunday, Dr Warren Blake, the president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), gave his support for the Games to go ahead, pointing out that April was still six months away and a lot of things could happen between now and then, including the accessibility of the Rapid Antigen Test.

It was an assumption that given the coronavirus pandemic, events such as the CARIFTA Games and Penn Relays, both much loved by the Jamaican track and field fans, would be cancelled for a second-straight year, while we try to manage the pandemic.

With the recent upsurge in new infections in the USA and large parts of Europe over the last few weeks, there are serious doubts about international travel, but it seems NACAC are taking a cue from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who are pressing ahead with the Olympic Games set for Tokyo next July-August.

The CARIFTA Games does not have the budget that the Olympic Games has, nor does the regional three- day meet has the potential to earn billions of dollars, but it does have its value as one of the best junior track meets in the world.

As Dr Blake also pointed out, Bermuda has very few cases of coronavirus, less than 200 as of a week ago, and while there were little or no information about the CARIFTA Games, such as if there would be any change in its format, if the Bermudan organisers had plans for widespread testing of athletes, officials and media on a daily basis; we do hope these details would be forthcoming soon.

How will they be able to safeguard all the participants in some kind of biosecure bubble for the duration and whether fans would be allowed inside the stadium, we are yet to hear.

Also, we have not heard whether they intended to keep the championships at the usual weekend date.

The ISSA Championships are traditionally held a month before CARIFTA Games, with the Penn Relays a week or two afterwards, but given the delayed start of the track season, tied in with the delayed start of the academic year, we could see some shifts in the dates of meets come the 2021 season.

ISSA has started consultations with coaches with a view towards staging Champs next year, and while a firm decision is yet to be taken, the suggestion was that the dates of the major meets should be pushed back by a month or so, to accommodate for the late start of training.

If the dates are pushed back, then the COCAA Western Champs, Central Champs, Eastern Champs and the Corporate Area Champs, would all be held in late March, when Champs would normally be staged.

That would be a week before Easter, which will fall on April 2-5, 2021, and it would be interesting to see if ISSA would push Champs back to late April, at the slot that is usually reserved for the Penn Relays, by which time most athletes would be in peak form, even if they started training in January.

All of this would be moot however, unless the conditions are favourable for any track and field meets to be held, as there will have to be development meets leading up to a CARIFTA Trials, which the JAAA would use to select the team.

Also, given that a new executive will be elected in another five weeks, will the new JAAA president and the executive agree with Dr Blake, or will they decide to gamble with the health of over 100 individuals that make up the Jamaican delegation?

April might seem to still be a long time away, but all these questions will have to be answered sooner than later.

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