HAMILTON, Bermuda– The CARIFTA Games will not be held next month in Bermuda as scheduled, with organizers concerned about the threat of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) that has reached several Caribbean countries.
At a press conference held last Friday with Sports Minister Lovitta Foggo, the chairperson of the Local Organizing Committee Donna Raynor said the event, which was to be held from April 10 to 13, is off until possibly later this year.
The decision follows additional cases of COVID-19 being recorded in the region.
“This has been a very long week with many twists and turns, but we feel we have come to the right decision for everyone involved in these games,” Raynor said.
“We do not want to take the opportunity away from athletes that have trained hard for these games. This is a yearly event etched deep in the history of Bermuda and the Caribbean countries…. We were deep in preparations and were ready to host the CARIFTA Games, and ready to welcome the 27 countries to our shores. The main thing we didn’t want to do was cancel. So our intention is that sometime this year we will host the CARIFTA Games.”
Once “it seems all is clear”, a new date for the games will be worked out in conjunction with the other Caribbean countries, Raynor added.
While disappointed, Minister Foggo said she understood why the decision was taken.
“These are unprecedented times and the health, safety and wellbeing of all our young people in all of our regions is our first priority. While putting on an event like CARIFTA is not new for us, as we have hosted it several times previously, the COVID-19/Corona virus and the health risks it represents is an extraordinary situation which is challenging even the greatest of nations,” she said.
“So, we are exercising our extreme caution by adhering to the guidelines of the global and local health experts and professionals. And as Minister, I stand here in support of Donna Raynor, the Chairperson of CARIFTA 2020 and President of the Bermuda National Athletics Association, all of our athletes, coaches and parents.”
The 49th CARIFTA Games were set to attract more than 600 athletes from 27 Caribbean countries. This is the fifth time that Bermuda will be hosting the games which features 150 separate events.
There have been COVID-19 cases confirmed in Antigua and Barbuda, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Martinique, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy and Trinidad and Tobago.