Sands says 50th CARIFTA Games to go to Guyana

Sports may be on hold worldwide, but from all indication, leagues will resume their respective seasons and regular activities and major events will resurface in the not-too-distant future.

In the grand scope of things, thousands of dollars have been lost in revenue, marketing and sponsorship with the postponement and cancelation of major sporting events worldwide. In this region, the annual CARIFTA Games is the most popular and arguably the most prestigious junior athletics meet. World Athletics (WA) President Lord Sebastian Coe has already called it the best junior track and field meet in the world.

For 2021, the branding of CARIFTA remains the same as 2020. Also, Bermuda will still be the host country with the event set for the Easter holiday weekend, April 3 to 5, 2021, at the Bermuda National Sports Centre in Hamilton, Bermuda. The 50th Golden Anniversary CARIFTA Games is set for the Leonora Track and Field Stadium in Leonora, Guyana, in 2022 – the first time that CARIFTA will be held in the South American country of one of the four founding members of CARIFTA.

Guyana has hovered around the middle of the pack at past CARIFTA Games, but is hopeful that the role of host would trigger a resurgence in the performances of their athletes on the track and in the field come 2022.

President of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), Bahamian Mike Sands, said the decision to retain both Bermuda and Guyana as hosts of the next two CARIFTA Games was certainly the right one to make.

“Even though we had to put several ducks in a row before we came to a conclusion, when you consider the preparation that would have been done, this was not a difficult decision,” said Sands. “First of all, it was very difficult to cancel the CARIFTA Games because that is something that had never been done before. Next year would have been the 50th edition but with this year’s event being canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, we decided to retain Bermuda, through consultation with their LOC (local organizing committee) and the government of Bermuda, as the host of the 49th edition for next year. The following year, in 2022, the 50th anniversary CARIFTA Games will be held in Guyana.”

Sands said despite the obvious setback they have received with the presence of the COVID-19 pandemic, there wasn’t any major shift to be made as it relates to the hosting of the events.

“Well, the good part about this is that there was no host selected as yet for 2022, so Guyana could step right in as the host of the 50th anniversary CARIFTA Games. Guyana readily accepted and it worked in all off our favor,” he said. “This also gives Guyana a li’l extra time to do something really special for 2022. This is one of the signature events of the region in junior athletics, and approaching the 50th year, I’m sure Guyana would want to go out there and do something really special. We’re all looking forward to it.”

The Athletic Association of Guyana (AAG), despite being a guest member of the 36-nation NACAC body, has been given the green light to stage the 2022 CARIFTA Games as the host association.

Sands said the coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on the staging of the event and that while countries are still a long way from getting back to a state of normalcy, there is light at the end of the tunnel with the host countries already being determined for the next two editions of one of their signature flagship junior events.

Jamaica has dominated at CARIFTA since its inception, winning 43 of the 48 titles, including 35 straight from 1985. The Bahamas has won four CARIFTA titles, all four coming in a five-year span from 1980 to 1984. They repeated as champions in 1981 and again in 1984. Bermuda won the only other CARIFTA title, coming out on top at the fourth version of the CARIFTA Games, in 1975, on their home soil.

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Sheldon Longley

Sheldon Longley joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2001 as a sports reporter. He was promoted to sports editor in 2008. Sheldon has an extensive background in sports reporting. He covered three Olympic Games and three world championships, along with multiple smaller regional and local games.

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