By Neto Baptiste
Following news that the Antigua and Barbuda Swimming Federation (ABSF) was forced to pull out of this year’s Junior Pan American Games, the body has now turned its attention to the FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) Short Course Swimming World Championships slated for later this year in Abu Dhabi.
President of the federation, Dr Derek Marshall, said the body is currently making plans to have the country represented at the annual meet.
“These are very unfortunate and trying times and we have a number of things we have to look at and at this point in time the ABSF had taken a decision to move on to planning for Abu Dhabi in the Short Course worlds and that’s at the end of the year,” he said.
“We identified some of the athletes that can go but we have certain deadlines that we have to meet. We have met the preliminary deadline and we have other deadlines coming up by the beginning of November and some other intermediate deadlines that we are going to meet in terms of selection,” he added.
The National Olympic Committee (NOC) this week, revealed that the swimming federation was forced to turn down two qualifying spots and two wildcard or solidarity slots for this year’s games due to a number of factors ranging from the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic to travel logistics.
Marshall clarified the federation’s position on the matter.
“The Junior Pan Am Games were scheduled for a different time and then it was pushed back because of Covid so the timing of the event is a little difficult and not only the timing of the event but also, the athletes had expressed some concerns and quite rightly so because of where they are located. Mostly all of those athletes are overseas and for them to travel to their respective places once they have completed the games then they would run into some problems because of the protocols and a lot of them would lose schooling because of that, it would clash with exams because basically that is exam time by the time they returned [home] in the case of most of them,” the swimming boss said.
Added to that, Marshall said a vaccination mandate by the organisers of the Pan American Games was of concern for the local federation.
“They brought out a mandate that the delegation needed to be vaccinated because some events require vaccination and some do not. The Pan American Games mandated which means that not only the athletes but also the coaches and everybody. We are not quite sure we met that criteria for the Pan American because we didn’t receive all of the documentation. Going forward, we have instructed all the athletes and all the members that want to join the delegation that we need to know what the status is, not just for the games but also for travelling to the various destinations,” he said.
A wildcard application for junior tennis start Sibley Charles was recently approved by the organisers of the Junior Pan American Games.