For the first time since the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, it appears that The Bahamas will have no relay teams qualified, in athletics, for the Olympics.
The Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) made the unpopular decision of withdrawing Team Bahamas from the World Athletics (WA) Relays Silesia 2021, which serves as an automatic qualifier for relay teams for the Olympics. The top eight in the men’s and women’s 4×100 meters (m), 4x400m and mixed relays from the world relays directly qualify for Tokyo 2020, the postponed Olympics, which is now set for July 23 to August 8, 2021, still in Tokyo, Japan.
The other eight relay teams for the Olympics, in each event, qualified from the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, or will attend based on time and world rankings.
Unless one of the teams pull out of the Olympics, and Team Bahamas is invited by World Athletics to compete based on time and world rankings, there would be no representation in the relays for The Bahamas.
“It’s unfortunate but that is the reality of the times that we live in,” said BAAA President Drumeco Archer. “COVID has saturated many parts of Europe and some of our athletes expressed reluctance in going that far in the midst of the pandemic. What confounded the situation was the fact that many of our Olympic hopefuls are still in university and are competing for their respective schools. After consultation with college coaches, athletes were not released. The federation realizes that there were athletes who expressed willingness to participate, but up until the deadline, there were athletes who had not posted times or who were not competitive. With all that considered, we made a decision that in the best interest of the country, to not field a team for the world relays.”
The world relays, which was once a staple event in The Bahamas, will be held this weekend, May 1-2, at Śląski Stadium, in Chorzow, Poland. The first three editions were held in The Bahamas – at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The fourth world relays were held May 11-12, 2019, in Yokohama, Japan, at which time The Bahamas had subdued representation. The men’s 4x400m relay squad pulled out of the competition, and the men’s 4x200m squad was disqualified in the final after running the sixth-fastest time in the heats. It was the first world relays in which The Bahamas didn’t win a medal.
In recent statements, Bahamian World Champion in the men’s 400m, Steven Gardiner, expressed frustration, stating that contrary to original reports, he was available to compete.
“We’re pleased to learn of it, but I could tell you that I was not made aware of his availability. I never received any communication from the management team of Stevie and Shaunae,” said Archer. “The bottom line is that we would have not had a team complementary enough of what we are accustomed to doing. We would have not had enough to be viable threat and what solidified our position was the threat of COVID. We are not going to put any athlete in danger of being exposed to the virus. The health and safety of the athletes, coaches and our team officials remain our primary concern.”
The Bahamas is just one of a number of countries to pull out of the world relays in Poland this coming weekend amid coronavirus concerns and rising cases of COVID-19 in the host country and around Europe. The United States, Canada, Australia, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have also pulled out of the world relays.
Host country Poland had in excess of 9,000 new coronavirus cases yesterday, and over 600 new deaths. With 2,776,927 total cases, it is the 13th most impacted nation in the world.