The Racers Grand Prix – Kingston Continental Tour Gold Meet, one of the biggest international meets in the Caribbean, has officially been cancelled for the 2020 track and field season.

Glen Mills, Chairman, Racers Grand Prix Organizing Committee, made the tough decision after careful observation of global sporting trends in relation to the novel coronavirus, as highlighted in a letter to the World Athletics (WA) dated Thursday, June 11, 2020.

“We are deeply disappointed to announce that the 2020 staging of the meet has been cancelled,” noted Mills.

“Especially after receiving such a great commendation from the WA. However, for the health and safety of all participants and stakeholders, we must look ahead to 2021 for the return of Racers Grand Prix. Hopefully, by then we will have sustainable engagement protocols for large sporting events in light of COVID-19.”

The meet, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, June 13, 2020, in Kingston, was one of ten meets in the new series designed to accommodate athletes from several disciplines cut from the Diamond League for 2020.

Racers Grand Prix is currently in dialogue with World Athletics, Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), the Kingston and St Andrew Metropolitan Corporation (KSAMC), sponsors Adidas and Richard Mille, and other key partners to confirm the proposed date of Saturday, June 5, 2021. 

The move is in tandem with the rationale of the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics, now tentatively slated for July 23, 2021 - August 8, 2021.  Fans of athletics can look forward to an exciting year of track and field events.

Usain Bolt shocked the world in 2009 when he raced to a world-record 9.58s to win the 100m at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, Germany.

The Racers Grand Prix, which was awarded gold status in the newly formed 2020 World Athletics Continental Tour, has been postponed due to the global impact of the novel coronavirus.

The meet, which was originally scheduled for June 13, 2020, in Kingston, was one of 10 meets in the new series designed to accommodate athletes from several disciplines cut from the Diamond League for 2020. The events - the triple jump, discus, 3000m steeplechase and 200m. are thee core disciplines for which ranking points would have been allotted at the same level as the Diamond League.

 Meet organiser Glen Mills, in a letter to World Athletics,  said the ferocity of the virus, the local and global restrictions on travelling and gatherings, quarantine procedures, as well as the inconclusive timeline of the impact of the virus were the reasons behind the postponement of the Continental World Series gold standard meet.

 “It is now clear that our only choice is to postpone the date of this year’s meeting of the Racers Grand Prix – Kingston Continental Tour Gold meeting,”  said Mills in the letter dated April 2.

“We are now hoping to be able to reschedule the meeting for a date in the latter half of August. Of course, this is subject to the agreement of World Athletics, in keeping with your overall schedule. It is also subject to the availability of the stadium and the hotel on this new date.”

The meet was intended to be a major boon for the Racers Grand Prix that over the past four years has established itself as one of the best track and field meetings in the Western Hemisphere.

 “We remain grateful that the world body recognised the type of meet that we were putting on, which has been of the highest quality,” said Mills. “And though the postponement of the event is unfortunate, once we receive the all-clear, we will ensure the meet delivers on every level.”

 “We encourage athletes to follow the World Health Organisation guidelines and those of their local leadership to reduce the risk of catching the coronavirus. And we also encourage them to focus on their wellbeing and to find innovative methods to stay fit during this period.”

 The Continental series was set to begin on May 10 in Tokyo, Japan and would also include the Fanny Blankers Koen Games in Hengelo, Netherlands; the Nurmi Games in Turku, Finland; and the Skolimowska Memorial in Silesia, Poland.

 

Glen Mills, former coach of retired sprint king Usain Bolt, would advise the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to push the Tokyo Olympic Games to next year.

So far, the IOC has resisted calls from several high-profile athletes, coaches, and even athletics associations, to postpone the games in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.  In the latest twist, the IOC has flatly rejected the idea of cancellation but is expected to take a decision on whether to postpone the Games, set to start on July 24.

Mills, however, admits that he cannot see the event being staged before next year, following the already massive disruptions to the schedule.

"I can’t see the Olympics going ahead; taking persons from all over the world and bringing them to one central point,” Mills said in a recent interview with Reuters.

"My recommendation would be to postpone the Olympics until next year,” he said.

“This would be unprecedented, but we are in unprecedented time. Move everything up one year and then everything will eventually fall back in place,” he added.

"But I don’t think that the Olympics will take place at the time that is specified (July and August) because the outbreak is worldwide and, in some countries,, it is just starting to accelerate.”

The Olympics has only been canceled on three occasions 1916, 1940 and 1944 in all those cases the scrapping of the Games was due to World wars I and II.

Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson-Herah and Wayde van Niekerk, are among a host of global track and field stars who have already expressed interest in competing at the 2020 Racers Grand Prix on June 13 as the now five-year-old meet takes on its new designation as a Continental World Tour Gold Series meeting.

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