Grange says Jamaica ready to host Carifta Games

Jamaica is ready to stage the 49th edition of the Carifta Games in April, says Minister of Sports Olivia “Babsy” Grange.

She said further that if the situations permit, spectaors could be allowed to attend the event.

The three-day meet, one of the premier junior track and field championships in the world, is scheduled to be held April 16-18 at National Stadium in Kingston and will be held for the first time since 2019 after the last two stagings were cancelled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“This year the staging of the Carifta Games takes on even greater meaning as it would be the return of the games since the start of the pandemic,” Grange told a virtual meeting of stakeholders yesterday.

The meeting was held to commemorate 100 days before the start of the championships, and Mike Sands — president of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC), organisers of the event — said his organisation wa grateful to Jamaica for hosting their event.

The event was originally set to be held in Guyana after it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 when Bermuda was set to host, but the South American country indicated last year it would not be able to take on the responsibilities.

Sands said when he approached president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) Garth Gayle, while they were both attending the World Athletics Under-20 Championships in Nairobi, Kenya, in August, the seeds were planted.

On Thursday, Minister Grange told the meeting that, given the success of the restart of sports in the island since last year, Jamaica was in a position to execute a successful staging of the event, the first major championships for most of the region’s top athletes.

“Last year, over 60 sports recovery proposals were reviewed, working with other state entities, the following sports events were approved and executed,” she said.

“The ISSA Boys’ and Girls’ Champs, the JAAA developmental track and field meets, the JAAA national senior and junior trials, the Jamaica Premier League, the national championships for tennis, golf, table tennis, chess, equestrian, squash and triathlon, the Manning and daCosta Cup schoolboy football competitions, seven time trials and three swim meets at National Aquatics Centre, the West Indies versus Pakistan Test series, Sunshine netball series against Trinidad and Tobago, three Fifa World Cup qualifying games against Panama, Canada and the USA, and the JGA Open which saw players from seven countries [were staged], so we are ready for Carifta,” Grange added.

The minister pointed out that Jamaica’s World Cup qualifier against the USA, “which was held with a restricted number of vaccinated spectators under strict COVID-19 protocols on November 16, was the first time since the pandemic that spectators were being allowed to attend a sporting event”.

“The Event Authorisation System was piloted to validate, approve and allow patrons to purchase tickets to attend the match and over 3,000 were approved,” Grange said.

“We understand that with this pandemic there are many doubts and a lot of uncertainties, but please rest assured that Jamaica will put all the necessary safeguards in place to ensure a safe staging of Carifta and, if the conditions are favourable, to allow for the attendance of spectators. That is what we are working towards,” she added.

Grange said: “We have a track record of hosting successful Carifta Games in the past and we want to assure you that this year will be no different. I am proud, as the minister of sports, to report that last year we resumed the hosting of sporting activities and events following the lockdowns as a result COVID-19.

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