The saga of postponements and cancellations for the CARIFTA Games continues, as the news that many young athletes in Cayman have been dreading was confirmed Tuesday, 11 May, with the announcement that the 2021 games have been scratched.
Reacting to the decision by the governing body, the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association, Lance Barnes, president of the Cayman Islands Athletic Association, told the Cayman Compass, “The cancellation of the CARIFTA Games is very disappointing to our young athletes, their parents and the entire Cayman Islands.”
The regional sporting event was originally slated to take place in April 2020 but following the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the games were postponed to December last year.
However, due to a spike in COVID cases in Bermuda, where the event was scheduled to take place, the games were moved to April this year; but, they were again delayed, to the first week of July, to prevent students in the Caribbean from missing school exams.
Bermuda National Athletics Association president Donna Raynor settled on 13-15 August for the games to take place. However, a dangerous and highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 in Bermuda that has been linked to 19 deaths since 1 April, forced changes in the jurisdiction’s public-health regulations, resulting in the cancellation of the event.
Barnes said while the decision was disappointing, he appreciated the cautious attitude of the organisers. “While all of us want to see our athletes perform at this level, our main priority must continue to be the health and safety of all those connected with the CARIFTA Games, and with that in mind, NACAC decided to cancel the 2021 Games,” he said.
According to Kenrick Williams, Cayman’s national track-and-field coach, 10 athletes qualified for the games, some of whom made the cut last year, with others achieving the required standard in 2021.
Barnes said, however, the athlete’s efforts will yet again be in vain due to the pandemic.
“Our athletes have been training tremendously hard over the past year and were disappointed last year due to the postponement,” he said. “They were hopeful the Games would have been able to take place this year.”
The Athletics Association of Guyana, originally scheduled to host the CARIFTA Games this year, had stepped aside for Bermuda to hold the event after the cancellation of the 2020 games. Guyana is now slated to host the event in 2022.