By Neto Baptiste
Chef de Mission for the Antigua and Barbuda Olympic team, Joel Rayne, has sought to ease concerns over reports that athletes returning home from the Tokyo games are not being given the usual pomp and ceremony on arrival at the country’s lone airport.
Speaking to the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show from Japan, Rayne expressed confusion over reports that sailor Jalese Gordon, who recently arrived on island, had not been greeted by any official.
“That’s news to me but I want to believe the federations and also the parents would know that the athletes are coming in because, like I said, the schedule did not change for most of them, except for Alston Ryan. I have received messages that they have landed safely so I don’t know that the parents or the federations did not know the day they were coming in,” he said.
One caller to the show expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that the athlete had to take a taxi to her destination and that no official was present on her arrival to welcome her home.
Reports also indicated that the same treatment was meted out to swimmer Samantha Roberts when she returned last week.
Rayne, stating there is always room for improvement, suggested that existing Covid-19 protocols may have contributed to the recent mishap.
“It’s a situation where not anyone could go to the airport and pick you up so maybe that was one of the factors why, in the case of Jalese, she had to take a taxi, but it wasn’t because her parents didn’t know she was coming. In terms of communication, there is always room for improvement in terms of between the NOC, the federations and the other stakeholders,” he said.
Six athletes represented Antigua and Barbuda at the Tokyo Olympics — Cejhae Greene and Joella Lloyd, swimmers Samantha Roberts and Stefano Mitchell, sailor Jalese Gordon and boxer, Alston Ryan.