By Neto Baptiste
Minister of Sports, Daryll Matthew, said the removal of the country’s national athletics and swimming teams from April’s Carifta Games, does not immediately extend to the annual Antigua Sailing Week activities slated for April 26 to May 1.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Thursday, Matthew said the ban also pertains to a national chess team due to compete abroad later this month but that a decision could be taken on Sailing Week at the next sitting of Cabinet.
“The Cabinet had some discussions yesterday [Wednesday] about Sailing Week and we have some preliminary ideas about what we think can be done. However, a definitive decision will be taken on Sailing Week by the next Cabinet session [next Wednesday] and that will be based on, again, recommendations from the Ministry of Health, the Immigration authorities, the Customs authorities because English Harbour area is a place where a lot of the yachts use as a port of entry and so there are certain protocols that must be in place,” he said.
“What will happen, is that over the next few days, some information will be received from the relevant authorities indicating whether or not we have the capacity to manage persons coming in for Sailing Week and to ensure the country is not put at risk,” he added.
The sports ministry announced on Wednesday that a Cabinet decision was made to pull the country’s teams to the Carifta Games with the swimming scheduled for Barbados from April 11-14 and the track and field aspect scheduled for April 11-13 in Bermuda.
Matthew said a number of individuals and bodies were consulted on the final decision.
“The situation was always being monitored but what triggered the decision to be made was the declaration by the World Health Organisation [WHO] that the Coronavirus is now considered a global pandemic and so I had discussions with the Minister of Health [Molwyn Joseph] who is the lead minister in this matter. I’ve had discussions with my predecessor and the minister with responsibility for immigration Hon Chet Greene and I had some discussions with the Prime Minister [Gaston Browne] as well,” he said.
“In addition to those individuals I spoke to the president of the track and field association, Everton Cornelius and the president of the swimming association Dr Derek Marshall along with our Director of Sports, Heather Samuel-Daley,” he added.
The minister said he will also convene a meeting with the heads of various sporting associations next week to discuss how the virus could affect their ongoing national competitions.
“But, before doing that I want to be guided by the Ministry of Health as it relates to mass gathering so at this point today it may not be an issue for persons to congregate in large groups because we do not have any suspected of confirmed cases of the coronavirus here in Antigua and Barbuda,” Matthew said.
To date, Taeco O’Garro (triple and long jump), Sheldon Noble (triple jump), Mia McIntosh and Alyssa Dyett (triple jump) are the only Antiguan athletes who have qualified for the April 11-13 games at the Bermuda National Sports Center.
The Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF), this week, named a 14-member team to represent the country in Barbados.
However, late yesterday, the ABSF announced via a press release, that it had abandoned plans to participate in the swimming competition.