By Carlena Knight
Fully vaccinated fans will be allowed inside the venues here in Antigua for the upcoming ICC Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup.
This was revealed by Sports Minister Daryll Matthew on Thursday during the official ceremony to declare the country a host for the tournament at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
Matthew explained that this policy is however not in set in stone and could change depending on the epidemiological conditions of the country.
“As it is now, the intention is to allow fans who are vaccinated access to the venues for the matches. However, we are facing uncertain times with the emergence of a new [Covid-19] variant and so that decision will be taken as we get closer to the time where matches will be hosted here in Antigua and Barbuda and we will continue to work with the Ministry of Health to advise us and guide us accordingly. So, again, as it is now, the answer is yes, vaccinated fans will be allowed into the venues but that decision may change depending on the epidemiological circumstances at the time,” Matthew explained.
The Caribbean, for the first time eve,r will host the 14th edition of the international youth competition which is expected to run from January 14 to February 5, 2022.
Antigua and Barbuda, along with Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and St Kitts and Nevis will host the matches, with Antigua and Barbuda set to host the semi-finals and finals starting from January 25 at both the Coolidge Cricket Grounds and the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium.
This move, Matthew said, is testament of the great work to put Antigua and Barbuda on the cricketing map.
Matthew also shared his excitement and gratitude over the fact that the country was selected to host this prestigious event.
Echoing his sentiments was the Cricket West Indies (CWI) CEO Johnny Grave who was also present at the brief ceremony.
Grave commended the officials on the ground who were instrumental in ensuring that for the past 10 months all the tournaments that have been played in Antigua, despite the pandemic, have been successful.
He also commended the government for its longstanding partnership with CWI, thanked the ICC for permitting the region to host this prestigious event and shared his gratitude with the grounds staff for their effortless work.
President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cricket Association (ABCA) Leon “Kuma” Rodney also shared his excitement and thanked the ground staff for their hard work.
“Choosing the Caribbean, I am excited, but choosing Antigua I am overly excited. There is no secret that whenever the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Stadium is involved, I am absolutely elated. I want to say to the tournament directors that you have chosen the right venue. We have been doing this thing for quite a while now and the team that provides service to the operation of cricket in Antigua and Barbuda, you are not going to get any better than that. The ground staff must always be given credit and all what they deserve. The cleaners, the scorers, the whole team that operates in Antigua and makes every event on behalf of most of the time, CWI, and even the International ICC, so we want to give them thanks for the work that they have been doing,” Rodney said.
He also gave his commitment that the practice facilities and other grounds around the country will be up to par.
Along with the two match venues, ICC officials will be using the Police Recreation Grounds and the Liberta Blackhawks cricket field for practice.
Sixteen teams will compete in the competition. New Zealand decided to withdraw from the tournament due to the extensive mandatory quarantine restrictions for minors on their return home with Scotland named as their replacement.
Bangladesh are the defending champions.