The hosting of the Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) 2021, originally scheduled for August 1-7 next year, could be postponed. But a final determination won’t come until September/October of this year.
Yesterday, the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Executive Board issued a media statement announcing that the CGF “decided to explore rescheduling options for the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games”, the seventh edition of the youth games that the Trinidad and Tobago Commonwealth Games Association (TTCGA) won the right to host on June 21, 2019.
Talking to the Trinidad Express yesterday, CGF media and communications manager Tom Degun said the CGF consulted with their member Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) whose major concerns centred around the uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the clash in the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics to July 23 to August 8, 2021 in Japan.
“Many of our members are also Olympics Associations and therefore must prepare for both events,” Degun said, “It should be noted that for the majority of our members and our International Federations, they are responsible for all age-groups and, therefore, responsible for planning for both the Olympics and Commonwealth Youth Games.”
The media statement indicated that the CGF has given the TTCGA consideration “as the first option to host” in the case that CYG2021 is rescheduled.
But while a potential push-back to 2023 was discussed in an April 27 Zoom video conferencing meeting last Monday featuring CGF president Dame Louise Martin and other CGF secretariat, Minister of Sport Shamfa Cudjoe, THA Secretary of Sport and Youth Affairs Jomo Pitt and other TTOC officials, a final determination on a new date is still to be made.
“We discussed the kind of impact COVID-19 is having on sports and sporting events so far and we felt that it was important that we start looking at considering whether or not these Games would have to be rescheduled,” Cudjoe said, adding that member countries had been calling for the postponement.
She conceded the conflicting dates with the Tokyo 2020 would prove challenging.
“However, we felt like it was too soon to make a definite decision about it until we extend the conversation to more members of the sporting community (local) while we plan to meet again within a couple of months (by Zoom) with the CGF.”
She continued: “We are hoping that by September/October, we can come up with a final decision so we can advise the countries and the athletes will know what to expect, and they could begin preparing. But for now, the conversation has started as it relates to the postponement.”
She added the government and the Ministry of Sport would keep their eyes on the ball with the very fluid situation with COVID-19, and would maintain constant contact with the CGF as they consider “all possibilities” for scheduling options.
Degun confirmed Cudjoe’s recollection of the meeting, stating: “No final decision has been made here. We are continuing to work closely with our Trinbago 2021 Delivery Partners to look at rescheduling options, potentially in 2023.
“It is worth adding that the press statement was agreed with Trinbago 2021 Delivery Partners and we continue to work closely together with the aspiration of staging a fantastic Commonwealth Youth Games,” Degun said.
He added the CGF considered the potential disruption to athletes who may no longer be eligible if the Games are pushed to 2023 and the “terrible impact” to lives and the sporting calendar.
In its release, CGF head Martin was quoted as saying: “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact across the world and everyone’s absolute priority is the health and well-being of their communities. Our decision has been made in the best interests of athletes, fans and citizens that are to benefit from these transformational Games.”
Martin stated she was committed over the coming months to look at future dates and hosting options, “to ensure the right decision is taken for the Commonwealth Youth Games so that the region can continue to play a leading role as part of the Commonwealth Sports Movement”.
The TTCGA bid, entitled “Trinbago 2021” was completed by the three-woman bid team of former Rugby North America (RAN) programme manager Kwanieze John, TTOC project officer, athletes services and programmes, Rheeza Grant and TTOC project officer, marketing and communications, Chanelle Young. who had conceptualised, developed and envisioned the successful bid.
It was based on three pillars: Youth, e-sports and Trinbago culture, with the trio also received guidance from experienced TTCGA members Brian Lewis and Annette Knott.