Swine flu puts paid to Caribbean Games

The inaugural Caribbean Games in Trinidad and Tobago next month have been cancelled because of swine flu fears.


McLean is disappointed. Photo: Ron Shillingford

The Cayman Islands had prepared a 19-member team for the Games which would have run from July 12-19.

Cayman Islands Olympic Committee President Donald McLean said: ‘I’m very disappointed. We’ve already gone to vast expense in preparing for these Games and will lose a packet of money.

‘Air fares were booked which will not be refunded and a lot of money was spent preparation and on training – especially with volleyball.

‘The cancellation is understandable but if they had given us a heads up earlier it would have been better because we put a lot of time and effort into preparing for this. I’m not sure when and if these Games will be rearranged.’

The Olympic Committee will lose tens of thousands of dollars from this cancellation.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Olympic Committee president Larry Romany has described the cancellation of the Caribbean Games as a huge blow to the organisers and the region.

Local officials cancelled on Friday due to the growing threat of the Influenza A H1N1 virus.

‘It is a blow for the Caribbean Olympic movement. You are looking at nine years of planning and dreaming. Words cannot adequately describe the disappointment,’ Romany said.

With Trinidad and Tobago’s cases of the virus listed at 18 and authorities warning of the likelihood of that figure increasing over the coming days, the local health ministry recommended the event be cancelled.

The virus has so far affected more than 76 countries and infected more than 30,000 persons.

‘Since the virus was first identified and detected in the USA last April, the TTOC was mindful of the risk potential the H1N1 virus could pose to the 2009 Caribbean Games,’ Romany said.

These concerns were further heightened two weeks ago, when the World Health Organisation officially declared a global H1N1 flu pandemic.

The T&T Olympic chief stated that the priority had to be the well-being of the athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and volunteers from the 27 Caribbean nations.

The Caribbean Games would have brought together 2,000 athletes, officials, and media workers from the region.

Romany said he would like to apologise to all the athletes, coaches and Olympic committees throughout the Caribbean for the disappointment and inconvenience caused.