With major sporting events either being postponed or called off altogether this year, it comes as no major surprise that the 2020 CCCAN (Central American and Caribbean Amateur Swimming Confederation) Championships has been canceled.
The announcement came in a statement from CCCAN President Felix Calderon, of Puerto Rico, earlier this month. Calderon said they thought about a possible postponement, but decided to call off the event altogether because of presence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Postponement to later in the year would still have us all in doubt. Right now, the coronavirus is raging in the United States, which is a hub for connecting flights to many of our zone two destinations,” Calderon stated.
Zone two destinations include countries in the Caribbean and Central America. The original date of the championships was June 24 to July 3 at the Betty-Kelly Kenning National Swim Complex here in Nassau.
Calderon stated that canceling the meet was done with deep regret, but added that the health of athletes, officials and supporters is paramount.
Back in March, The Bahamas pulled out from hosting the prestigious event. It was set to be the final Olympic qualifying event in swimming for this region. The alternate was the Dominican Republic, but that nation also pulled out.
President of the Bahamas Aquatic Federation (BAF) Algernon Cargill said the BAF is not surprised that the meet has been canceled.
Other countries showed interest in hosting the event, but Calderon added that it meant the championships would have to be pushed back to late August or early September. He said that would be an added burden on the new host, as they would have been making plans and not knowing if the meet would still occur.
“They would be making plans for the event under a heavy shadow of doubt that the event may have to be canceled due to the prevailing health situation,” said Calderon. “The new host might have to make deposits on accommodation[s] and transportation – some might be non-refundable. I believe that CCCAN then may be liable to refund the host country,” he added.
During this time, a number of countries have closed their national swimming facilities and have shut down sporting activities, forcing athletes to work out at their respective homes. CCCAN also took that into consideration, as athletes cannot get the required training for a meet of this magnitude. Also, Calderon said, this way it provides a level playing field for athletes.
“Most pools, if not all in our region, are closed as governments enforce social distancing and prevent congregating in numbers. Athletes therefore cannot train. For training to benefit athletes, their mental state should be free of all doubt, and training for an event with the likelihood of it being canceled would not benefit this effort. Even if some pools are open, all athletes would not have an equal playing field and sport is based on equality for all,” Calderon stated.
Another reason for this decision is the pandemic’s negative economic impact, forcing a number of parents and supporters down the path of unemployment. As a result of that, many parents would be unable to pay the cost of travel and accommodations for their children.
With this year’s edition of the championships being canceled, efforts are already being placed on finding a host for the 2021 edition. Calderon stated that CCCAN will send out the bid document as soon as possible.
Cargill said The Bahamas will not be hosting CCCAN in 2021 for several reasons. However, the door is open on hosting the CARIFTA Swimming Championships in 2021.
“Primarily we want to use 2021 for a year to rebuild our programs and get back in the water competitively,” Cargill said. “It is also the year of the Olympic Games. Also, the cost of hosting the CCCAN Championships may not be the most practical thing to absorb or take on as a country in 2021. We will not be offering to host CCCAN, but, if the opportunity arises to host CARIFTA, we would certainly look into hosting that event.”
The Bahamas finished the 2019 CCCAN Championships in Wildey, Barbados, with 29 total medals – nine gold, 10 silver and 10 bronze. The team finished tied for fifth with Jamaica, with 362 points.