Two days after the local organising committee said it was going ahead with the April 10-13 staging of the 2020 Carifta Games, the event has been suspended. A letter from the head of the regional track and field federation has explained that the meet has been postponed as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus.
The decision was made by the North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) federation, and the Bermuda National Athletics Association. In a letter to NACAC member countries, NACAC President Mike Sands wrote: "This decision was not taken lightly but in the best interest of all stakeholders against the backdrop of the rapidly evolving situation with regard to the COVID-19 across the globe and supported by the World Health Organisation declaring a global pandemic, which has led several countries, regardless of size, political ideology or wealth, to close their borders, cease travel and stop mass gatherings."
Sands, a retired Bahamian 400-metre runner, left the door open for the Games to be contested at a later date. "Your NACAC Executive Board, in collaboration with the Bermuda National Athletics Association will continue to monitor all future developments with the view of the Bermuda 2020 CARIFTA Games being placed back on the calendar at the earliest possible date shortly after an all clear is given to resume normalcy," the letter continued.
Bermuda has the distinction of hosting the games in 2004 when Jamaica's Usain Bolt set a world under-20 200 metres record of 19.93 seconds. The record still stands today.
The Sands communique included advice to coaches and athletes. "With this in mind, I urge you to maintain your athletes fitness level for this eventuality. You are also welcomed to make suggestions for alternative dates," it concluded.
Jamaica topped the 2019 medal table last year. Competing in Grand Cayman, the Jamaicans won 85 medals, 36 gold, 33 silver, and 16 bronze. In addition, a dominant under-20 sprint double earned Jamaica's Briana Williams the award for being the most outstanding athlete at the games.
In closing, Sands wrote: "In the meantime, I once again encourage you to please continue following the advisories from your respective health and governmental agencies in a collective effort to overcome this temporary setback."
In comments reported on March 11, Donna Raynor, the head of the Bermuda track and field association, said, "Most of the athletes are coming in from the Caribbean and flying in on charters, not flying through the United States. That's a good thing as so far we haven't heard any incidents of the coronavirus in any of the Caribbean countries."
Coronavirus cases have emerged in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. Both countries staged their Carifta Trials last weekend.