Guyana has been named as hosts for the 50th edition of the CARIFTA Games in 2021, marking the first time in the the country’s history that they will stage the region’s premier junior track and field meet.
The 48th games concluded in Cayman Islands on Easter Monday, with Bermuda now set to play hosts to the event next year.
Guyana’s athletic chief, Aubrey Hutson, said the country had lobbied organisers, with the main argument that it was a “travesty” the country, located on the South America mainland, had never yet staged the games.
“To have this meet go on for 50 years and us not hosting, I think it was a travesty; and it is one of the main points that I raised with the whole CARIFTA congress, that they need to come to Guyana — and that was the selling point,” Hutson said in a statement.
“With us hosting at home, we will be able to put two athletes in every event. So, starting now we have two years to prepare to have two athletes in every event at CARIFTA, and I think that we will really and truly rival Jamaica who has been running away with this event every year.”
Not considered powerhouses in Caribbean athletics, Guyana had a successful outing in Cayman Islands, picking up four gold medals en route to finishing with 10 medals overall.
The performance left them fifth on the medal tables only behind perennial champions Jamaica with 85, the Bahamas with 26, Trinidad and Tobago with 24 and Barbados with 11.
Hutson said he anticipated the hosting of the meet would result in a considerable boost for Guyana’s tourism product.
“Organisers need to understand that we need to be aware that nearly 600 athletes are coming here to compete at one meet and then there are the home fans that follow them,” he pointed out.
“There are Jamaicans and Trinidadians and Bahamians who basically save their money whole year round just to go to CARIFTA Games.”