Cricket West Indies announced on Saturday it would suspend the last two rounds of the marquee first-class championship, along with an entire suite of youth tournaments for the next 30 days, as it braces for the full impact of the deadly coronavirus across the region.
In a statement, CWI said the bold decision was taken on the recommendation of its Medical Advisory Committee, which convened by teleconference on Thursday to discuss the impact of the virus on the domestic schedule.
The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has already popped up in several Caribbean territories with Jamaica, Trinidad, St Lucia, St Vincent, Antigua and Barbuda, and Guyana all reporting cases over the last week.
“The health and safety of our players, officials and staff are of paramount importance to CWI and we have advised the board of directors to take proactive policy steps to decrease the growing risk of contamination and spread of the virus,” said CWI’s chief medical officer, Dr Israel Dowlat.
The ongoing eighth round of the first-class championship was set to wrap yesterday, with matches being played in Trinidad, Guyana, and Antigua.
All three nations were set to host upcoming age group tournaments. The Women’s Super50 Cup was scheduled for Guyana from March 27 to April 12, the Under-15s Boys Championship was carded for Antigua from April 9-20 while the inaugural Under-19 Girls Championship was set for Trinidad from April 6-12.
Dr Donovan Bennett, chairman of the Medical Advisory Committee, said the decision to suspend the competitions was aimed at minimizing the spread of the virus.
“We are acting based on medical best practice as well as in an abundance of caution,” Bennett said.
“The ongoing gathering of even small groups of spectators, cricketers and match officials could pose a risk to some persons of contracting the virus and being stranded in quarantine in a non-resident country for a prolonged period.
“Clearly, this pandemic is still evolving, and we will continue to monitor the situation throughout the Caribbean.”
All face-to-face CWI meetings – including a board of directors meeting and an annual general meeting scheduled for Antigua next month, have been also suspended.
The board said any “urgent matters” would be discussed via teleconference.
CWI’s decision follows that of the CARIFTA Games organisers who on Friday cancelled the region’s premier junior track and field which was to be staged in Bermuda over the Easter weekend next month.
Nearly 156,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported worldwide with almost over 5,800 deaths recorded. (Jamaica Gleaner)