T&T withdraws as Caribbean Games host nation

Swine flu concerns forces decision

Port of Spain -19 June 2009

With twenty-two days to go before the 12 July opening ceremony.

“It is a heartbreaking moment,” says Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Larry Romany.

Romany was commenting on the decision taken by the T&T Government that due to the Influenza A H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus the twin-island Republic was withdrawing as host nation for the inaugural Caribbean Games.

The announcement was made earlier today at  a press conference hosted by the T&T Minister of Health,Senator Jerry Narace. Also in attendance and speaking at the conference were T&T Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, Gary Hunt, Mrs Denise Demming, chair of the Caribbean Games 2009 Local Organizing Committee and  Elton Prescott, Honorary Secretary-General of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC).

Romany confirmed that the TTOC supports the decision taken by the T&T Government.

“Since the virus was first identified and detected  in the USA last April, the TTOC was mindful of the risk potential the H1N1 virus could pose to the 2009 Caribbean Games.

These concerns were further heightened on 11 June when the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared a global H1N1 flu pandemic.

 The T&T Olympic chief stated that the priority has to be the well-being of the athletes, coaches, administrators, officials and volunteers from the twenty-seven Caribbean nations.

“It is a blow for the Caribbean Olympic Movement. You are looking at nine years of planning and dreaming. Words cannot adequately describe the disappointment. However, we must remain resolute and indomitable.”

 “It has been a deeply emotional experience. Our collective dedication and commitment to the Olympic movement, the Olympic ideals, spirit and values has been put to the test.It was an honour and a privilege for T&T to be asked to host the inaugural Caribbean Games.
What the Caribbean Games meant to the region’s youth and athletes  inspired us [T&T] to undertake our responsibilities and obligations with a deep sense of mission and purpose.There was a lot of expectation and responsibility placed on us [T&T]”.

Romany said he would like to apologise to all the athletes , coaches  and Olympic Committees throughout the Caribbean for the disappointment and inconvenience caused.

 “I know the hard working and dedicated Caribbean Games 2009 Organizing Committee Board of Directors, staff and volunteers who have so valiantly responded to the call will feel a profound sense of disappointment. But the risks regarding the realities of H1N1 has to be accepted and addressed.”

Romany thanked the local, regional and international sponsors and partners who would have stepped forward to offer support either monetary or value-in-kind. He also noted the support given by the Minister of Sport, Gary Hunt and the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs.

“I am sure it was not an easy decision for Minister Hunt and his colleagues to make.”

The TTOC president acknowledged that the eventual fate of the 2009 Caribbean Games will be decided by the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC).

“The Government of Trinidad and Tobago has communicated its position. It is now left to CANOC to determine the status of the 2009 Caribbean Games,” said Romany.