‘Health and safety has always been priority’

SAFETY has been a key consideration for organisers of the now-postponed 2021 Island Games in Guernsey.

Games director Julia Bowditch during the Guernsey online update for the IIGA AGM. (28735246)
Games director Julia Bowditch during the Guernsey online update for the IIGA AGM. (28735246)

Dame Mary Perkins, chair of the Guernsey 2021 organising committee, said it had been contingency planning since March – including using World Health Organisation guidance for large-scale events.

Meetings had also been held with local public health chiefs alongside communication with International Island Games Association member islands and its executive committee.

‘In all of our planning, the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers, spectators, supporters and our Guernsey community have always been our priority, and will continue to be so,’ added Dame Mary.

‘Whereas we know that this announcement comes as a huge disappointment, we would like to thank all our volunteers, sponsors and sports co-ordinators for their continued support.’

Games director Julia Bowditch said there had been a spending freeze since March as part of contingency planning. While advanced with planning pre-pandemic, she added other factors now had to be considered – such as new guidelines issued by governing bodies for hosting sporting events that could incur costs for members islands and sports.

Other member islands had also been unable to get teams together and train.

The games director pledged to continue working closely with the IIGA executive committee, member islands and sports to put on a great future games.

‘We will keep everyone informed as soon as we know about a decision on the revised dates. We will all continue to work as hard as we can to put on the best event possible and give Guernsey, Orkney and the other member islands something to look forward to,’ she added.

Education, Sport and Culture vice-president Richard Graham said: ‘We fully support the Guernsey 2021 organising committee – they have worked very hard so far and we know that they will continue to focus and develop their plans through these challenging times.’

Guernsey Athletics’ development officer Tom Druce said the news was disappointing but not surprising – and would have been a financial impossibility for many athletes who were self-funded. ‘Usually it costs around £1,000 each for us to travel, and most visiting teams would be paying that, plus the health risks and uncertainty,’ he said.

The Orkney Islands in Scotland were due to host the 2023 edition. Its organising committee also expressed disappointment at the postponement of the 2021 games – which could have knock-on effects for future events – but added the decision had been taken for ‘good and sound reasons’.

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