Association took care of COVID tests, meals for athletes in Jamaica; did not seek govt’s help
Sport Minister Charles Ramson Jr. on Tuesday clarified that at no point did the Athletics Association reach out to the government for assistance, financial or otherwise, while Guyana competed at the 49th Carifta Games in Jamaica last weekend.
While the government did offer financial support to the contingent prior to their departure, news surfaced at the weekend that the team was short on finances for COVID testing and meals for an additional day.
This claim was made by politician Nigel Hughes.
“It will never be the case that our athletes would end up in a situation where they are overseas and they need additional support and the government of Guyana wouldn’t make the resources available so that they can get back home safely and participate fully,” Ramson Jr. told News Room Sport.
“I think it’s a disgrace as well that Mr. Hughes has sought to gain cheap political mileage and advance his agenda off of the backs of our young, talented Guyanese when they should really be focusing on participating in their activities, giving their best performance.”
Following a meeting with the Sport Minister, Director of Sport Steve Ninvalle and members of the National Sports Commission on Tuesday morning, the President of the Athletics Association Aubrey Hutson indicated that it was never an issue that the Association could not have handled.
He highlighted that the dynamics kept changing in Jamaica, noting that at one time the COVID-19 test ranged from free to between US$25 and US$45.
“It was never an issue we could not handle. So it was the normal thing for people in the diaspora to assist our teams – it happened in the Cayman Islands, it happened in Bermuda – and I guess in Jamaica it’s just the wrong person got wind that there may be a situation and they just took it and used it for their own political advancement,” Hutson explained.
The issue, Hutson outlined, was dealt with on the ground and at no point did they reach out to the government for support.
“From the time we knew we were going (to the Games), we wrote the government of Guyana and they advanced the relevant financing to us and whatever needs popped up after, we were capable of handling it.”
Commenting directly on the contents of the post by Hughes, Hutson warned against politicizing sport.
“It was totally out of place as far as I’m concerned. We need to keep politics out of our sport and we don’t want anyone to use our athletes to gain cheap political mileage,” Hutson declared.
Minister Ramson Jr. said he was surprised by the post, especially given the open line of communication that himself, the Director of Sport and the Chairman of the National Sports Commission Kashif Muhammad share with all national associations.
“There was never a need where they didn’t have sufficient funds to pay for their COVID testing as well as the meals that they needed to take them to the end of their trip. I have no reason to dispute what Mr. Hutson is saying. On every instance that we have dealt with Mr. Hutson, everything he has said he has turned to be accurate,” the minister said.
Guyana finished with seven medals at the Games with Attoya Harvey leading the charge with a gold (U-17 1500m), silver (U-20 3000m) and bronze (U-17 800m).
Also medaling at the three-day event were Anisha Gibbons, who won gold in the Under-20 Javelin; McPherson took silver in the Under-17 400m, Javon Roberts also claimed a silver in the Under-17 1500m and Adriel Austin in the Under-20 800m.