Guernsey starts to gear itself for Island Games
As Gibraltar sports people continued to express their concerns at whether next years' Island Games would go ahead or not, Guernsey, next years host Island geared itself for a restart of sports on the Island.
This weekend should have seen athletics make a return with a no restrictions-based athletics meeting. As we went to press June 28 had already been scheduled to see a full athletics competition with no social distancing requirements taking place. Next year's Island Games host was also due to see restrictions set to be lifted after over a month without any confirmed Covid-19 cases.
Athletics had already made its return on the island with several competitive races taking place during the past weeks. Competitions in both track and field had already been part of the programme followed by Guernsey's athletics.
Cricket was also due to make its return at the end of this month.
Although Guernsey is seeing some of its sports return there were still concerns over next summer's Island Games which are due to take place between July 3-9, 2021.
Already other sports in the Island, such as Netball had imposed travelling restrictions on its competitors. Netballers were now not due to travel for competitive matches off-Island, leaving a massive void for the sport. Similarly concerns over travelling restrictions to and from the Island still exists.
Even before the expected release from lockdown the organisers of next years games had in May already tried to quell any concerns.
Speaking on their official website Games Director Julia Bowditch answered some key questions.
Commenting on how Covid-19 had affected planning for the Guernsey 2021 NatWest International Island Games she told guernsey2021.gg, "the current Covid-19 situation is obviously affecting all of the member islands of the International Island Games Association. The Organising Committee are continuing with planning for the Guernsey 2021 NatWest International Island Games. We are well advanced with plans as our Chair, Dame Mary Perkins, had tasked us with having everything in place ahead of the visit of representatives from each of the Islands which was due to take place in July this year. This trip has been postponed for the time being, and we are planning online updates for the member islands until we can re-schedule."
She also indicated that organisers believed that "the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics will have little impact on the overall planning for Guernsey 2021. There may be a few athletes who will be affected, but that will obviously need to be addressed at an individual level," she told guernsey2021.
Games Director Julia Bowditch also commented on concerns over travel stating that "travel will obviously have an impact on visiting teams, and we will need to see when Phase 6 of the Exit from Lockdown Framework will be implemented and what that will look like. The Guernsey 2021 Organising Committee are in regular contact with the International Island Games Association and the member islands regarding all aspects of planning for the Games, including travel restrictions for the individual Islands and what impact this may have. "
The same concerns have these past few weeks been raised by some sports people who hope to form part of Team Gibraltar.
With advise on costs of travelling to Guernsey already tabled for some of the sports, the high costs that would be incurred by individuals has raised concerns among sports people. The uncertainty over whether it would be safe to travel has been high upon the agenda of those expressing their concerns. Others also indicating that there is a reluctance on whether to start paying deposits required even at this early stage with no clear indications yet on whether the games will be assured to take place if conditions remain as they are at present.
The IIGA has as yet to hold its Executive meeting which was due to be held in July but was postponed early on at the start of the global lockdown.The meeting was due to bring all the Islands together in Guernsey opening the way to assessing the progress on the organisation of the games is going and giving member associations a chance to assess facilities and discuss arrangements for next summer. As of yet no date has been announced on when this meeting will take place adding to the uncertainty among its members.
With the Island Games no clashing for exposure with other major events which have been postponed until next summer, and with many of its members having to travel far and wide to compete, the biggest concerns are on the possible withdrawals of competitors and association islands unable to meet the new demands they will face on safety and travel costs.
Guernsey Island Games organisers have already stated that among one of the things they had done was to produce a Risk Management and Mitigation Report which they review every two weeks. This includes regularly reviewing a number of areas that could impact the Games and amending their planning processes accordingly.
"We will continue to work with the IIGA, the member islands, our sports co-ordinators, sponsors, volunteer teams and the States of Guernsey to ensure we deliver the best event possible. It is our hope that the Games will give all of the member island communities something to focus on and look forward to, although we appreciate that our plans may need to change. However, the single most important consideration is one of public health, and we are determined to act responsibly through the decisions we make," Games Director Julia Bowditch told guernsey2021.gg as the island entered its unlocking process in May.
With many countries only now involved in a release from lockdown and with just over a year left before the Games officials still believed it was too early to forecast on whether the Games would go ahead or not. Gibraltar for its part had already started to work towards getting a team ready. Cyclists, as well as Triathletes among the first to start time-trials and qualifiers.