The Bahamas Aquatics Federation (BAF) has decided the CARIFTA swim team and under-16 water polo team will not defend their titles at the upcoming CARIFTA Swimming and Water Polo Championships. The remaining water polo squads have been pulled as well and The Bahamas’ participation in CARIFTA track and field remains up in the air.
The decision about CARIFTA aquatics was stated during an interview with BAF President Algernon Cargill yesterday afternoon.
“We have been advised that the government of The Bahamas has indicated that all national teams traveling internationally are not approved. It’s simply out of precaution to ensure that the young athletes traveling to CARIFTA are protected,” Cargill said.
The Bahamas’ swim team is the defending champion after a dominant performance last year. The swimmers won 73 medals, inclusive of 35 gold, 18 silver and 20 bronze. The closest country to them was Jamaica with 59 total medals, inclusive of 22 gold medals.
In the points standings, The Bahamas won with 889.50 points. Jamaica was second with 748 points. The Bahamas has won three straight CARIFTA swimming titles and five of the last six.
Cargill said it is important as a precaution to take the best approach to protect Bahamians.
On the track and field side, President of the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) Drumeco Archer said they have not received any official communication from the government of The Bahamas on the team’s status.
“We have not received any form of communication with respect to the government’s position but there has been an unofficial communication saying that it is likely that the CARIFTA Games for track and field will also be canceled. We have not received any official notice as yet,” he reiterated.
As far as aquatics is concerned, in addition to The Bahamas withdrawing from the CARIFTA championships, Cargill said that he has been advised that the entire event will be canceled.
“I am advised that Barbados will be canceling CARIFTA aquatics,” Cargill said. “There is not just The Bahamas that has pulled out of CARIFTA but Antigua and Barbuda as well, and several other countries have pulled out. With that, Barbados likely will be canceling CARIFTA aquatics.”
If either CARIFTA track and field or swimming, or both, are canceled, this would be the first time in the history of the regional junior meets that either, or both, are stopped, because of a global pandemic.
Archer has said they have been in communication with the Bermuda National Athletics Association (BNAA) and they are still going ahead with plans for putting on the Easter holiday weekend event.
“We know that day by day, countries are being affected by the virus. Antigua and Barbuda has actually withdrawn themselves from the games. The reports are continuing to come in. From Bermuda, the organizing committee and the president would have advised that the games are still going on as planned although they will continue to watch the global spread of the coronavirus,” Archer said.
Team Bahamas’ under-16 boys water polo team are the defending CARIFTA champions after taking down Trinidad and Tobago, 12-11, in the gold medal match a year ago. That win avoided a Trinidad and Tobago sweep of all three of the age categories.
As expected, Cargill along with the athletes are disappointed that they will not be able to participate at CARIFTA.
“We are very disappointed,” Cargill said. “We worked very hard to participate at CARIFTA. As you know, we had our national trials last weekend. We have 36 swimmers and several open water and water polo players who qualified to represent The Bahamas. All those children are very disappointed, but there is wisdom in the youth and they understand why and they are hoping they have an opportunity to represent The Bahamas at another international meet this year. The parents understand the rationale behind this so we just have to focus on moving forward.”
Cargill said they understand the reason behind the decision by the government. “We understand the logic and we support the decision because prevention is the best thing to help us all during this pandemic crisis,” he said.
The CARIFTA track and field team is expected to be named after the CARIFTA Trials, still scheduled for March 27 to 28 at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
The Bahamas’ track and field team finished second behind Jamaica at last year’s CARIFTA Games.