Bermuda’s athletics chief Donna Raynor has hit out at governing body North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) over the way she was informed of the coronavirus pandemic-driven cancellation of the CARIFTA Games due to be held here later this year.
Raynor, president of the Bermuda National Athletics Association (BNAA), told the Royal Gazette newspaper that she appreciated how uncertain the situation had become because of the pandemic but, as a ranking member within NACAC, she did not expect to be informed of a cancellation through a group email.
“I found out when everybody else found out, which is very disrespectful,” she said.
“A decision did not have to be made at the beginning of May. It could have been made at the end of May.”
Raynor said communication between the local organising committee and NACAC, which was always good, broke down when the decision was taken to call off CARIFTA, and she claimed there was no discussion with BNAA to seek its input.
“It wasn’t how our discussion was going,” she said. “The discussion was we recognised that it was not going to be the same, but then when it came down to it, they were like ’it’s all or nothing’.
“Then they sent out an e-mail to everybody saying CARIFTA is cancelled. There was no discussion and no process. The interesting thing is that every time (NACAC president) Mike Sands and I talked, it was, ‘We don’t want to say that word ‘cancelled’, we’re going to make it work, even if it is not what it used to be’.
“All of a sudden this word ‘cancelled’ comes into play without any discussion with us.”
Raynor said the BNAA had been looking forward to hosting the Games, the region’s annual junior athletics showpiece, for the fifth time after winning the bid in April 2018 and was disappointed over the cancellation, coming as it did three weeks after both of her parents died within four days of each other.
“We’ve been planning for two-and-a-half years, arranging volunteers and having meetings every single week,” she added.
Keith Joseph, the NCAC general secretary, said in Monday’s statement: “NACAC understands the impact that another cancellation of our premier annual junior competition will have on our young athletes.
“Unfortunately, we have carefully taken all factors into consideration and are left with no option but to cancel the CARIFTA Games 2021.”
Raynor admitted the final straw which led to the cancellation of the Games was the new regulation by the Bermuda government that all unvaccinated travellers be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine at their own expense.
With more than half of CARIFTA athletes aged under 16, many coming from countries where vaccination at that age is not an option, NACAC took the unpopular decision to cancel the Games.
The Games, first staged in 1972, were due to be held here last year but were called off because of the pandemic.
Guyana, who stepped aside for the first postponement last year, will host the Games in 2022.
The scheduling of the Games has been beset by problems since the original postponement from April 2020 not long after the outset of the pandemic.
A spike in Covid-19 cases in Bermuda from mid-December into the turn of this year, which has seen 31 deaths among more than 2,000 cases, led to new dates around Easter weekend being scrapped.
This was followed by a move to the first week of July, which was then changed because of an unforeseen clash with school examination dates in the Caribbean.
NACAC and the local organising committee finally settled on August 13-15.