No 50th Carifta Games for Guyana; country could now host in 2024
The North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), is set to announce The Bahamas as the host nation of the CARIFTA Track and Field Championships in 2023, replacing Guyana.
Sources indicated that high-level Bahamian sport authorities made a pitch to host the event at the Congress on Sunday in Jamaica, and they secured the hosting rights for the ninth occasion.
Jamaica is currently hosting the 49th edition, the first instance the Games are being held since 2019 due to the pandemic.
Athletics Guyana President, Aubrey Hutson, in an interview with News Room Sport on Sunday afternoon, confirmed this development and explained the reason why Guyana lost the rights.
“We were supposed to host the 50th edition of the Games in 2022, and after the Games were taken from Bermuda due to COVID, Bermuda was asking that they keep the 49th edition, and NACAC was not prepared to do this, and they [NACAC] approached us [Guyana] to see if we were willing to host, seeing that we were so ahead of planning for the CARIFTA Games to be held in 2022,” Hutson related.
The Athletics head said discussions were held with Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr. and the consensus at that level was for Guyana to host the 50th edition in 2023.
“And I think the authorities at NACAC didn’t take too lightly to this and hence they would have asked that the bid be reopened for the hosting of the Games.”
He added, “They [NACAC] were not looking at it from the standpoint that we were given the 50th anniversary of the Games, but we were given the CARIFTA Games in 2022, which is what we said we could not do because had Bermuda hosted the games in 2021, then this year would have the 50th in 2022, so that was their rationale.”
With 2023 now out of the window for hosting, Hutson indicated they will look at the possibility of 2024.
“While some of us may want to look at it as a sad situation for track and field, I think it is a time for us to reassess our position in track and field, and work harder in getting those championships to come here. We have not lost hope, my colleague in Jamaica said let’s look at the 51st edition in 2024 which would give us a lot more time to sit and analyse, get government commitment, get sponsors on board and host a proper meet,” the Athletics Guyana President envisioned.
Hutson underscored that Guyana, which has strong Caribbean ties and competes regularly at the Games, has “no voting rights at NACAC.”
In 2019, it was announced by NACAC that Guyana, for the first time since the Games started in 1972, would host the 50th edition of the Games in 2022, but that was shifted to 2023 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In January 2020, the top NACAC officials visited Guyana to conduct a site visit at the National Track and Field Facility, Leonora, West Coast Demerara, and highlighted the need for rehabilitation works to the surface of the track and other needed improvements.
Hutson had pegged the budget at GY$120 million of which North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) would usually contribute US$200,000 and the rest is left to Athletics Guyana, the Government, and the private sector.
Additionally, in this year’s national budget $20M has been allocated for upgrades to the track.
CARIFTA, an Under-17 and Under-20 championship, is widely considered the showpiece of Caribbean Junior track and field.