The Jamaica Administrative Athletics Association (JAAA) has confirmed that Jamaica will host the 49th Junior Carifta Track and Field Games in Kingston from April 16 – 18, 2022 at a cost of just under US$1 million.

Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports says she supports the country’s intention to host the 2022 Carifta Games but warns that that will only happen once the necessary approvals and required funding are achieved.

President of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) had announced that his association had been given the green light to host the Games next Easter during a Special Congress of the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association on Saturday.

Jamaica’s move came after Guyana, which was supposed to host in 2022, indicated that it would be unable to fulfil its obligation.

On Wednesday, Minister Grange appeared to back Gayle saying it would be a timely venture considering that Jamaica celebrates 60 years of independence in 2022.

“I am in full support of Jamaica hosting the 2022 Carifta Games as a part of the country’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with the National Stadium in Kingston being the venue,” she said about the competition that would take place between April 16 – 18.

“When news came that the selected host for 2022, Guyana, was unable to fulfil the obligation, it was felt that the only country which could step up to the plate at such short notice would be Jamaica. Not just because of the ongoing dominance of our athletes, but because of our experience in staging similar events with athletes in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Following the cancellation of the 110-year-old ISSA Boys and Girls Championships because of the pandemic in March 2020, Jamaica successfully staged the championships in May and then the National Athletic Championships in June. The island also hosted several track meets including the Jamaica Olympic Association-backed Olympic Destiny Series leading up to the national championships.

“We are very proud of the successful staging of the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships (CHAMPS) earlier this year. We have no doubt that we are equal to the task of staging the Carifta Games next year,” Minister Grange said.

“With the cancellation of this important event (Carifta) for 2020 and 2021, junior athletes have missed out on the opportunity to gauge where they are at this critical stage of their development. Therefore, I feel that no effort should be spared in us trying to host the 2022 event.

“I have indicated to the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) and the North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletics Association (NACAC) that as Minister I would do my best to assist in making it possible. Carifta is of course the premier event for junior athletes across the CARICOM region with athletes competing in two age categories: under-17 and under-20.”

However, the minister was quick to indicate that all the necessary elements needed to be in place before the government would be able to give its full blessing.

“I must say, however, that although Jamaica is interested in hosting the event, it is subject to several approvals and sign-offs as well as the requisite funding. The Ministry is therefore working very closely with the JAAA and NCACAC to satisfy all the requirements in order for me to make an official announcement,” she said.

 “It is in our best interest to do everything to have the Games held here.  Among all the other good reasons, our tourism, hotels in Kingston in particular, will definitely benefit.”  

 

Following the cancellation of the Carifta Games in Bermuda earlier this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Jamaica is in line to host the Games during the Easter Weekend in 2022.

The development comes as Garth Gayle, President of the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA) announced at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Special Congress on Saturday, that Jamaica’s Sports Minister Olivia Grange has given a green light to the Games.

According to Gayle, Minister Grange is of the view that hosting the Carifta Games would be an ideal fit with the government’s plans for a year-long celebration of the country’s Diamond Jubilee as an independent nation.

The Carifta Games were scheduled to be held in Bermuda earlier this year but was eventually cancelled because of spikes in the spread of the Covid-19 virus in that country. Usually held during the Easter weekend, the Games were first moved to July 2-4 and then to August 13-15 before it was eventually cancelled in May.

Jamaica last hosted the Carifta Games in 2011.

The very successful staging of the inaugural Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA)/Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) ‘Olympic Destiny’ track and field series has arrested the attention of the global sporting fraternity in a manner that has left experts shouting "bravo".

In a publication, World Athletics stated that the series is "aptly named JOA/JAAA ‘Olympic Destiny’. The Washington Post newspaper in the United States also had the event on its radar with a report on the explosive world-leading 10.63 performance of sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in the 100 metres.

Performances during the series were also captured in traditional and new media entities worldwide.

Although only in its first year, ‘Olympic Destiny’ has already earned a reputation locally and internationally as a standard-bearer in track and field, which the JOA and its member association, the JAAA, intend to guard jealously.

Contemplating current health challenges and risks and looking to the future, President of the JOA, Christopher Samuda, in a post-event interview, stated that, "Olympic Destiny gave athletes a new and inspired lease on life amidst the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the national senior trials will be the 'Olympic Verdict' as athletes vie for coveted places at the pinnacle multi-sport the Olympic Games”.

The description, ‘Olympic Verdict’, of the national senior trials, is on point as several events, including the 100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and the triple jump for both men and women, as well as the discus for men, are expected to be competitive and showstoppers.

Secretary-General and CEO of the JOA, Ryan Foster, in anticipating keen contests, remarked that "on D-day at the national senior trials, diplomacy will somewhat give way to assertive rivalry for at the end of it all there will be one verdict, which performances will deliver.”

This year's national senior trials between June 24 and 27 at the National Stadium is indeed the ‘Olympic Verdict’ as "emerging generations will meet experienced campaigners in a decider that will be healthy for the sport, thrilling for the fans and ensure succession," Foster said.

The jury will certainly not be out where the staging of future Destiny series is concerned as the JOA intends to roll out ‘Olympic Destiny’ in 2022 and beyond in athletics and other sports.

"Olympic Destiny is now a staple on the calendar as we have earmarked the summer and winter Games as dramatic watershed events of exciting times ahead of us,'' Samuda declared.

If the significant turnout of athletes and the notable performances are anything to go by, the ‘Olympic Destiny’ Series will become not only a local product of Olympism but an international asset.

 

The JAAA has secured at least one international race for Jamaica’s men’s 4x100m relay squad as they attempt to a secure spot at the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

A Jamaican quartet will race at a World Athletics Continental Tour track and field meet to be held at Prairie View, Houston, Texas on May 25.

“So far Nigeria and Canada are down to compete in the race,” said JAAA General Secretary Marie Tavares. “But we understand that I least one other team will be involved.”

Jamaica is provisionally qualified in 11th position with the top 16 teams to be accepted into the relay pool at the Olympics. That qualifying time (38.15) was achieved in the semifinals of the IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, 2019. 

The need for a race escalated after Jamaica was forced to withdraw from the IAAF World Relays which took place in Poland last weekend.

 This past weekend, a team of Asafa Powell, Julian Forte, Yohan Blake and Oshane Bailey posted a time of 38.33, the second-fastest in the world this year.

 The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has announced the withdrawal of a team to the World Athletics Relays set for May 1-2 in Chorzow, Poland.

In a release issued on Tuesday evening, the JAAA cited the difficulty of travelling during the pandemic and existing COVID-19 protocols as the reason for its decision.

“Based on existing travel restrictions, routing and possibilities since then, caused by the SARS Covid 19 Pandemic, it has become extremely challenging for the Jamaican team and officials to participate,” the release read.

Last week, the JAAA announced that an experienced team had been selected to take part in the event.  Double Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah, Olympic and World Championships 400m bronze medalist, and former 100m world record holder Asafa Powell were among the headliners selected for the Jamaica squad.

Thompson was expected to be part of a 4x100m relay squad that included Natasha Morrison, Natalliah Whyte, Remona Burchell, Kasheika Cameron, and Shashalee Forbes.

She was also down to compete in the less often contested 4x200m, with Whyte, Forbes, Candice McLeod, Tiffany James, and Anastasia LeRoy.

Powell would have led a 4x100m team that included Oshane Bailey, Nesta Carter, Julian Forte, Nigel Ellis, Romario Willams, and Kadrain Goldson.

The Jamaica Track and Field Coaches Association (JATAFCA) believes the absence of track and field competitions because of the Covid-19 pandemic is proving to be destructive.

In light of this claim, they have called upon the relevant authorities to immediately authorize the resumption of track and field that will allow the country to maintain its standing in global athletics.

The last track meet was held on March 20, 2021, and with the ISSA Boys and Girls Championships and the World Relays in Poland looming, Jamaica’s athletes will be at a significant disadvantage.

“The current delay is destructive. The psychological and mental damage to our athletes and coaches is almost irreparable. As a nation, we cannot afford a cancellation of ISSA Champs 2021, which the delay will cause. Not only is the competition a major pillar for our world-renowned track and field prowess, it provides the platform for student-athletes to earn athletics scholarships to overseas colleges and universities.”

JATAFCA said that the available data indicates that Jamaica’s student-athletes earn scholarships valued at over J$2 billion. This is a stark contrast to the J$85.791 million allocated in the 2019-20 Estimates of Expenditures for the Ministry of Sports for Athlete’s insurance. No other line item was identified as applicable.

“We, therefore, call upon the authorities to recognize the importance of track and field to the overall national development, the psyche and contribution to the young people of our nation. We implore them to partner with the JAAA, ISSA and their sponsors, to stage these competitions safely and successfully,” they said.

The inactivity, JATAFCA said, is due to the absence of approval by the authorities for the additional competitions organized and managed by the governing body the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association (JAAA).

“We are made to understand that the authorities are concerned about the spike in COVID-19 cases and the stress on the public health system,” the JATAFCA said in a statement Thursday.

“Let it be clear that we too are equally concerned. We are, however, of the opinion that concern for public health is not diametrically opposed to the staging of COVID-19 safe track and field competitions. It is all about striking a balance, minimize the fallouts, and pursue the things we are best at.”

The coaches’ association said that over a three-week period from February 27 to March 20th, the JAAA staged 20 competitions that saw 39 junior athletes - 27 boys and 12 girls - making the very rigorous qualifying standards for the World Under-20 Championships in Nairobi Kenya.

In addition, there was at least one world-leading performance from a senior athlete.

“With some 1500 juniors and close to 300 senior athletes competing in the Qualification Trial Series (QTS), there was no reported positive COVID-19 case(s) among athletes, officials or athlete support personnel,” the coaches said.

“The JAAA executed well and established a blueprint that several countries across the NACAC region, including USA and Canada, have now adopted.

 “We also make the call for authorities to provide clear and immediate responses, within 24 hours, to the applications for permits now in their possession. Further delay would be tantamount to assisting our global competitors in making light of our efforts when we meet on the track or in the field later this year.

“As an association, we will continue to play our part in encouraging our members to practice all the COVID-19 protocols for mask-wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene. They know we hold them to a high standard of compliance, a similar standard that has resulted in us being ranked third in World Athletics.”

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has received approval from the relevant government authorities to stage a series of competitive meets in order to allow junior and senior athletes the opportunity to sharpen up.

In the main, local track and field events have not been held on the island since March of last year, as part of efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.  The government recently announced plans to re-start sporting events on a case by case basis and the event, called the JAAA Qualification Trial Series, will be the first approved for the track and field local governing body.

The trials will be on February 27, held across several venues across the island, and have specific events on offer.  Among the events on offer will be the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1500m, 2000m SC, 3000m, 5000m, 70mH, 80mH, 100mH, 110mH, 400mH, 4x100m, 4x400m, 4x200m, 1600m SMR, Long Jump, Triple Jump, High Jump, Pole Vault, Shot Put, Discus and Javelin.

Athlete’s wishing to compete in the meet must sign a COVID-19 waiver, with waivers signed by parents for athletes under-18.  The meets will feature no spectator with strict COVID-19 protocols in full effect at all the venues.

The Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) has sought to assure the island’s athletes that it is doing everything possible to facilitate the safe resumption of track and field across the island.

For the most part, all types of track and field competitions across the island have been shuttered since last year, as part of efforts to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

In order to resume, sports administrations must submit a series of plans that illustrate how it is that sporting events will comply with the strict protocols set out by the goverment's Disaster Risk Management orders.

The JAAA, who have submitted the documents, is confident they have put together a strong proposal and pointed to the fact that the proposal has been shared with other North American, Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) members, who are expected to adopt several of the recommendations.

Among the organisations proposals are the provision of COVID protocol marshals, trained by the Ministry of Health and Wellness to oversee competitions and training; hosted sensitisation sessions with coaches, team managers, and athletes, a guide for meet organisers, and a team manual for competitors.

According to the JAAA, they are yet to be given a response from the authorities but have in the meantime urged athletes to continue to prepare for the upcoming season and to continue following the existing protocols.

 

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