MONTEGO BAY, St James — For the first time since the start of the Western Primary track and field championships in 2009, the popular event will not be held this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers told the Jamaica Observer West yesterday.
The event that evolved into a two-day spectacle joins a long list of sporting events that have been called off because of the coronavirus that has claimed six lives in Jamaica and more than 177,200 worldwide.
As of Tuesday, there were 233 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 27 recoveries on the island.
The 12th staging was scheduled to take place at the St Elizabeth Technical High Sports Complex in Santa Cruz on Friday, June 12 and Saturday, June 13.
Albert Ferguson, chairman of the organising committee, said given a combination of events, including the suspension of schools and the restrictions on gatherings imposed by the Government, there was no choice but to pull the plug on the event.
“We rely heavily on schools’ participation, and if they are physically closed, with no form of training and preparation, it would not be feasible to have the championship,” he said.
“For a while we were in a wait-and-see mode, but when the BPO [business processing outsourcing] sector situation emerged and the sudden spike in infections, it was clear that we had to cancel.”
Additionally, Ferguson said with the virus negatively impacting the economy, sponsorship could also be difficult to get.
He argued, “With regular schools operating virtually since March, coupled with social distance orders and a ban on public gatherings of no more than 10 people, we the organisers of Western Primary Schools Athletic Championships have no option but to cancel this year’s staging of the championships.”
Black River High are the three-time defending champions after winning in 2017, 2018 and 2019, joining Corinaldi Avenue Primary as three-time champions.
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