… Cricket, football, athletics among COVID-19 primary casualties
By Clifton Ross
The year 2020 has been filled with plenty of wonders and new lifestyles thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to what has been a rolling year for sport internationally and especially in Guyana. Guyana alone had its fair share of annual events being postponed or called off indefinitely around the end of February / March, when the virus made its way to the Caribbean scene. The first, and probably the most important, tournament at the time, the 4-Day Region tournament 2019-2020; he was in his final stages when he was forced to be called away, leading to the Pride of Barbados winning the title.
Following the cancellation of the 4-Dayers, reality began to take hold as many other regional and local events were systematically dropped or postponed until a more certain date in the future.
So began the ripple effect that went on, blogging everything from local volleyball, karate, car racing, table tennis and other popular sports brands, to taking an indefinite backseat to normality. The result was a barren, barren, sporting wasteland that further created a sad atmosphere for athletes, fans and stakeholders alike. It took nearly 7 months of affliction, trials and a bunch of in-depth study as it is about understanding how the virus functions as well as how it will affect the sports and tourism sector. After months of inactivity due to lock-down and its guidelines; Guyana, like most other countries, tried to deal with the outbreak and its aftermath, despite a complete 360 turn compared to just 10 months ago.
Now with the pre-existing threat still looming and possibly even more on the verge of rolling into something far more uncontrollable than the initial wave, more sports in Guyana will be trial. However, a few sports have managed to slip through the deadly cracks of COVID-19 and find ways to return to normalcy amid the ongoing threats. Volleyball, despite recent government support with its proposed plans to move forward after being marginalized since their last overseas trip back in February; suffered terribly without any tournaments or anything remotely falling, since earlier in the year. Athletes are likely to try to fully re-group and rejoin live action for 2021.
Basketball, football and cricket are mostly on the same wavelength. They are all team sports, they all require social gatherings and heavy team presence / input and all are conventionally played in front of a large number of fans. Locally, all three sports have been equally quiet with basketball and football having to surrender a number of plans for 2020 while cricket has also suffered with several major annual competitions being canceled for the time being first in a significant number of years.
Despite these difficulties, the local sports fraternity has focused solely on finding ways and means to live and work alongside the pandemic, which has no apparent timeline of when it might or might it will subside.
Athletics is another big-shot receiver that COVID-19 deals with by having most of its activities, including the international Aliann Pompey Invitational – one of the significant Guyanese tournaments – not to continue its annual tradition.
Those major associations and clubs in Guyana have lost millions in sponsorship among other areas of fiscal depression thanks to the virus. Horse racing, one of the largest sporting events in the country, has seen no action since January; with two of their events, including the annual Mega Meet Westminster Day, canceled. Due to the apparent uncertainty, whenever permission is given by the local Task Force to resume live sports and outdoor activities will allow some form of routine living in the future.
With cases on the rise, locally and around the world, the new plans for sport in 2021 will most certainly revolve around safety, production and security.
Cricket, football, basketball have all made some progress since the pandemic began, leading to successful tournaments being held in a sensible environment. Those local associations have also been keeping close with their foreign governing bodies, following the necessary guidelines needed to stay safe and play during a pandemic. It is safe to argue that 2021 will be another year of mystery as it relates to COVID-19 and the new measures, which could be taken or new mandates that will be introduced for 2021 for all teams and niches sports in Guyana, the Caribbean and the rest of the world.