New dates for Tokyo 2020 creates certainty, eases pressure

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the new dates for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on March 30 which now will be celebrated from July 23 to August 8, 2021 and the Paralympic Games will be celebrated from August 24 until September 5, 2021.

These new dates give the health authorities and all involved in the organisation of the Games the maximum time to deal with the constantly changing landscape and the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ephraim Penn, President of the BVI Olympic Committee along with National Olympic Committee representatives from around the world attended a video conference on March 27 and were solicited for any comments and concerns. The new dates – exactly one year after those originally planned for 2020 (Olympic Games: 24 July to 9 August 2020 and Paralympic Games: 25 August to 6 September 2020) – were decided based on three main considerations:

  1. To protect the health of the athletes and everyone involved, and to support the containment of the COVID-19 virus.
  2. To safeguard the interests of the athletes and of Olympic sport.
  3. The global international sports calendar.

The new dates for Tokyo 2020 will ease the pressure on organisers of qualification events and enable them to reschedule competitions once the COVID-19 impacts can be assessed and restrictions reduced without compromising athletes’ health. International Federations are also requested to only confirm upcoming qualification events in their respective calendars once they can guarantee fair access and fair and appropriate preparation for the competing athletes and teams. The IOC President, Thomas Bach hosted a conference call with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commission Representatives on Tuesday, March 31 to layout these decisions.

All athletes already qualified and quota places already assigned for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will remain unchanged. This is a result of the fact that these Olympic Games Tokyo, in agreement with Japan, will remain the Games of the XXXII Olympiad. The same heat mitigation measures as planned for 2020 will be implemented.

“The BVI Olympic Committee continues to stand by our qualified athletes and hopefuls for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games which now will be held in the Summer of 2021,” said Penn. “Extensions from Olympic Solidarity for financing programmes such as Olympic Scholarships for Athletes for Tokyo 2020 means that we will be able to keep up with the monthly payments to our athletes as well as top it up with the sponsorship money from iForex. Panam Sports has also reached out to us and we are in discussions on how they can support the BVI and our athletes on the road to the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Games.”

“I am in direct communication with all of our athletes who have Tokyo 2020 in their sights and can help them with answering or flagging any issues relating to the preparations for the Games,” said Chef de Mission Tahesia Harrigan-Scott. “So far, we are on a positive trajectory and working on readjusting our preparation timelines for the new dates of the Summer Olympic Games.”

Tokyo 2020 postponement sees spirit of resilience and cooperation dominate global response

The postponed 2020 Summer Olympic Games will remain in Tokyo – PHOTO: Yoshikazu Sekiguchi

The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, held a conference call this morning to discuss the constantly changing environment with regard to COVID-19 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The unprecedented and unpredictable spread of the outbreak has seen the situation in the rest of the world deteriorating. Yesterday, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “accelerating”. There are more than 375,000 cases now recorded worldwide and in nearly every country, and their number is growing by the hour.

In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.

Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC said that while the postponement was an understandable outcome of the talks and the current pandemic, the focus of the BVIOC will turn to supporting the athletes and any impact the delay may have on their psyche and preparations.

“Moving the dates to an unknown time in the future is hard on the athletes but this is not the first time that our athletes have had to face adverse situations and we will be doing our utmost to support them and to ease the strain of preparing for the future,” said Mr. Penn. The BVIOC provides a monthly training scholarship and has also secured sponsorship from iForex to assist VI’s Tokyo 2020 athletes in their preparations for the Games.

“While initially I was disappointed with the IOC’s decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games, on reflection I’m thankful that they are putting our health first,” said Chantel Malone, the Lima 2019 Pan American Games VI long jump gold medalist. “With everything going on, the restrictions definitely put a limitation on training with regards to what we can and can’t do so, all in all, postponing these Summer Olympics is for the greater good and will give us more time to be even more prepared to produce awesome results. Every cloud has it’s silver lining!” Tokyo 2020 will be Malone’s first Olympic Games.

“It’s unfortunate that these 2020 Summer Olympic Games have been postponed because we have been training so hard in preparation but we understand the decision to put our health and safety first and we’ll be making the most of the extra time available to get ready for this important competition,” said Eldred Henry, the VI’s shot putter whose first Olympic appearance was at Rio 2016.

“It’s disappointing after all this time training and competing in what few meets we had in the lead up to the Games in July but we will overcome this hurdle and look to the future as we continue with our preparations. We just hope that our sponsors, the VI government and our supporters continue to stand by our side during this extended period,” said Kyron McMaster, the VI’s Commonwealth Games 400m hurdles gold medalist who will make his Olympic debut at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Games.

Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020 in consultation with Mr. Penn remains in constant contact with the Virgin Islands’ athletes confirmed or hoping to attend the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and will continue to relay information received from the IOC and the organisers as they decide on the new dates and associated changes.

“I have an open line of communication with all our Tokyo 2020 confirmed and hopeful athletes and our real time conversation enables me to keep them up to date with correct information from the official channels. Right now, the news has been quite hard on them as they have been as focused as they can to compete in their best form in July. They are recalibrating but overall they are in a positive mindset and are determined to work with the outcome of the IOC’s decision to postpone and plan to make the most of the extended time to train hard. It is also really important that the support and encouragement behind them continues,” said Chef Harrigan-Scott.

The global community has rallied to the IOC’s news with three major Tokyo 2020 sponsors – Proctor & Gamble, Intel and Coca-Cola – all reaffirming their commitment to the Games. Organisers of major Games including the 2021 World Athletics Championships slated for August 6 – 15 in Eugene, Oregon and the Commonwealth Youth Games Trinbago 2021 scheduled for August 1 – 7 in Trinidad & Tobago have already communicated their willingness to shift their events to accommodate the new date for Tokyo 2020.

Panam Sports in a press release also stated that it will maintain all of its aid programs for athletes, coaches and National Olympic Committees. They also said that once the new dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games are defined, Panam Sports will work together with the IOC, the International Federations, the NOCs and the athletes to be able to adjust the schedules for the competitions that follow, in particular the Junior Pan American Games of Cali 2021 that were scheduled between June 5-20.

IOC agrees to set up scenario-planning for the Olympic Games 2020

To safeguard the health of all involved and to contribute to the containment of COVID-19, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Sunday, March 22 that the IOC will step up its scenario-planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the Games to go ahead on 24 July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the Games. This step will allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan. It will serve as the basis for the best decision in the interest of the athletes and everyone else involved.

Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, Chef de Mission Tokyo 2020 in consultation with Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC has remained in constant touch on the matter with Eldred Henry, Kyron McMaster and Chantel Malone, the 3 Virgin Islands’ athletes confirmed to attend the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Japan.

“These indeed are uncertain times and while the outcome of the discussions between the IOC, Tokyo 2020 organisers and stake holders is an unknown and while meets and important competitions in the lead up to the Games have been impacted, our athletes are continuing with their training as best they can to be as ready as they can be. It’s not an ideal situation but at this time, we can only continue with the preparations and encourage our athletes to take the necessary precautions to safeguard their health while preparing as if the Games will go ahead until we are advised otherwise,” said Mrs. Harrigan-Scott.

“All NOCs and international federations are being notified of decisions as they are made and we in turn are working with our Chef de Mission to keep our stake holders informed. The local federations are also kept abreast of developments through their international governing bodies. We have spoken with the BVI Athletics Association and have noted that the biggest concern for our athletes for now is the potential medical risks but we are in agreement that we will await the outcome of the IOC’s decision and will address any of the athletes’ questions and concerns at that time,” said Mr. Penn.

On the one hand, there are significant improvements in Japan where the people are warmly welcoming the Olympic flame. This could strengthen the IOC’s confidence in the Japanese hosts that the IOC could, with certain safety restrictions, organise Olympic Games in the country whilst respecting its principle of safeguarding the health of everyone involved.

On the other hand, there is a dramatic increase in cases and new outbreaks of COVID-19 in different countries on different continents. This led the EB to the conclusion that the IOC needs to take the next step in its scenario-planning.

A number of critical venues needed for the Games could potentially not be available anymore. The situations with millions of nights already booked in hotels is extremely difficult to handle, and the international sports calendar for at least 33 Olympic sports would have to be adapted. These are just a few of many, many more challenges.

Therefore, further to the study of different scenarios, it would need the full commitment and cooperation of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Japanese authorities, and of all the International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). It would also require commitment from, and collaboration with, the Rights-Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) and our TOP Partner sponsors, as part of their continued and valued support to the Olympic Movement, as well as cooperation from all the Games’ partners, suppliers and contractors. It is in this spirit of the Olympic stakeholders’ shared commitment to the Olympic Games, and in light of the worldwide deteriorating situation, that the IOC EB has initiated the next step in the IOC’s scenario-planning.

The IOC will, in full coordination and partnership with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, start detailed discussions to complete its assessment of the rapid development of the worldwide health situation and its impact on the Olympic Games, including the scenario of postponement. The IOC is confident that it will have finalised these discussions within the next four weeks, and greatly appreciates the solidarity and partnership of the NOCs and IFs in supporting the athletes and adapting Games planning.

The IOC EB emphasised that a cancellation of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda.

After the EB meeting on Sunday, IOC President Thomas Bach wrote to the global athlete community to provide them with an explanation of the IOC’s approach. In the letter, Bach stated once more that safeguarding the health of everyone involved and contributing to contain the virus is the fundamental principle, and said: “Human lives take precedence over everything, including the staging of the Games. The IOC wants to be part of the solution. Therefore we have made it our leading principle to safeguard the health of everyone involved, and to contribute to containing the virus. I wish, and we all are working for this, that the hope so many athletes, NOCs and IFs from all five continents have expressed will be fulfilled: that at the end of this dark tunnel we are all going through together, not knowing how long it is, the Olympic flame will be a light at the end of this tunnel.”

BVIOC free sports clinic stepping stone to promote grass roots development in the community

The BVI Olympic Committee organized and ran a free sports clinic for the community at the A. O. Shirley Recreation Grounds on Saturday, October 12 as part of celebratory activities to mark Chantel Malone’s historic gold medal win in long jump at the Lima 2019.

The clinic took place the day after a ceremony recognizing Chantel’s achievement of becoming the British Virgin Islands’ first Pan American Games medalist. The interactive session was presented by Tahesia Harrigan-Scott and Joey Scott of Tru Fit Athletics, Miami and featured the BVI’s elite track and field athletes, Chantel Malone, Kyron McMaster (400m hurdles), Eldred Henry (shot put) and Ashley Kelly (400m) and Dr. Harlan Vanterpool, NHI Medical Director.

“This clinic was a great launch pad for executing grass roots engagement and bringing to life the practical elements of the long term athlete development programme,” said Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC. “The four BVI professional track and field athletes worked with a captivated audience for the whole morning, interacting with the youngsters in the community, advising and inspiring them to work towards developing their athletic potential.”

The panel of professional athletes are all beneficiaries of the BVIOC Elite Athlete Programme which provides financial support to help them prepare throughout the year for major games. Each of the panelists shared their personal experiences, insights and practical tips on a wide range of topics during the indoor discussion forum and out on the track and field. Attendees heard what it takes to make it in a selected sports and learned more about the dual purpose of college attendance with recommendations to focus primarily on the academics followed by sports as an avenue to excel in a particular discipline.

The most important takeaway for many was the advice to set a personal goal and identify the support base to help achieve the goals. Out on the track and field, attendees loved the ‘form and technique’ sessions provided by the professional athletes – with each participant coming away with something new to apply to their execution.

Dr. Harlan Vanterpool’s engaging explanation about what anti-doping actually means and his conversation on testing and reveal of the testing kit used helped to deliver a better understanding among the young athletes on the reasons, rules and regulations as promoted by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“The BVIOC sees this clinic as just the start of another way of promoting sport for all and pushing the LTAD program in the community,” said Mr. Penn. “The BVIOC has 16 National Federation members, several of whom have athletes and teams who are on the professional circuit and who can help to build our pool of athletes through similar engagement. We have held two named Sports Festivals on Olympic Day with interactive sports stations set up by the National Federations but we now want to evolve these stations into actual clinics within the Sports Festival as a means of educating and enthusing the public of all ages. We also hope that it becomes an opportunity for the coaches to spot potential talent from within the community and open up a pathway for the development of such talent.”

The Olympic Day Sports Festival is slated to take place on Saturday, June 27, 2020.

View the BVIOC free sports clinic photo album on Facebook

BVIOC to host free sports clinic presented by Tahesia Harrigan-Scott of Tru Fit Athletics and featuring Chantel Malone, Kyron McMaster, Eldred Henry, & Ashley Kelly

Free interactive BVIOC Sports Clinic presented by Tahesia Harrigan-Scott of Tru Fit Athletics featuring Chantel Malone, Kyron McMaster, Eldred Henry and Ashley Kelly will take place at A. O. Shirley Recreation Ground on Saturday, October 12. Image credits: Todd VanSickle, CM Farrington, Tru Fit Athletics

The BVI Olympic Committee has organized a free sports clinic which will take place on Saturday, October 12th from 9.00am – 1.00pm at the Multipurpose Complex and A.O. Shirley Recreation Grounds.

The clinic has been organised as part of special activities which will be held in recognition of Chantel Malone’s historic achievement at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games when she won a gold medal in the long jump with a mark of 6.68m to secure the Territory’s first ever medal in a Pan Am Games.

The clinic is open to the public and will be conducted by Mrs. Tahesia Harrigan-Scott of Tru Fit Athletics, Florida and will feature Chantel Malone and her co elite athletes, Kyron McMaster (400m hurldes), Eldred Henry (shot put, discus) and Ashley Kelly (400m).

“We have a cadre of remarkable athletes who currently are ranked among the world’s top athletes and who are putting the BVI on the map with their performances at major international meets,” said Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC. “We are excited to have Mrs. Tahesia Harrigan-Scott the Territory’s recently retired, first senior professional female athlete and Chef de Mission, Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games join us with coach Joey Scott of Tru Fit Athletics, Miami in organizing a free clinic for the community.

“This is a unique event which will bring our elite athletes back home for one weekend to celebrate the latest historic achievement by Chantel Malone at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games by sharing their experiences with the community, giving us an insight into their lives as professional athletes, provide tips and pointers for aspiring athletes and serve as an inspiration to us all.”

The clinic, which supports the BVIOC’s Long Term Athlete Development programme, will include an educational section and a practical section. The educational section in the Multi sports Complex will be an open session discussion between the professional athletes and attendees focusing on the trials and tribulation of sports and provide insights on strategies and experiences that athletes have to work through in order to become successful and accomplish their goals.  

Dr. Harlan Vanterpool will conduct anti-doping breakout sessions which will aim to equip athletes and their parents as well as coaches and volunteers with practical and useful information on how to be aware of substances banned by the World Anti Doping Association (WADA) and identify ‘safe’ over-the-counter and prescription medicines.

The practical section will be held at the A.O Shirley Recreation Ground.  Attendees will be divided into age groups and cover sprints, jumps, throws, and hurdles.  Each section will be led by one of the professional athletes. 

The clinic will take place the day after a motorcade and recognition ceremony for Chantel hosted by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The motorcade which starts at 3.00pm on Friday, October 11th, will travel from the Queen Elizabeth II Park and route through Waterfront Drive, Botanic Station and turn west at the traffic lights to end at the Central Administration Complex where the ceremony is scheduled to start at 4.30pm.

Click here for information on the Chantel Malone commemorative t-shirt.

Tokyo 2020 Chef de Mission Tahesia Harrigan-Scott visits Japan 1 year ahead of Summer Olympic Games

(l-r) Aki Murasato (Executive Director of International Relations, Tokyo 2020), Yukihiko Nunomura (President, Tokyo 2020), Maxwell De Silva (Secretary General, NOC of Sri Lanka), Tahesia Harrigan-Scott (VI Chef de Mission), unkown, Turo Kobayashi (Head of NOC Services, Tokyo 2020), James Macleod (Director, NOC Relations & Olympic Solidarity, IOC) at the Chef de Mission Seminar in Tokyo, Japan, Aug 20 -22 2019.

Tokyo 2020 is just under a year away and the Virgin Islands’ 100m CAC multi-gold medalist and IAAF World Indoor Championships bronze medalist, Mrs. Tahesia Harrigan-Scott is the Chef de Mission for the 32nd edition of the Summer Olympic Games.

Undertaking her first official duty, Harrigan-Scott attended a three-day Chef de Mission Seminar in Japan from August 20 – 22. She joined representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) for progress updates and venue tours a year ahead of the Games which takes place in Tokyo from July 24 to August 9, 2020.

Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, Chef de Mission, Tokyo 2020 with the Olympic Torch

“The seminar has been very informative and I have received a lot of information which will assist in structuring my plans going forward as Chef de Mission for Tokyo 2020,” said Harrigan-Scott. “I was a bit disappointed not to be able to go into the Olympic stadium as the venue is still under construction. While some venues – like the field hockey venue – are completed, most of the others are in their test event phase so in term of venue tours, it’s just seeing the progression of the stadiums and the different areas being developed.

“The atmosphere in Tokyo is great, the environment is good with the only thing of concern to most people and the Tokyo 2020 organizers is the heat and humidity around the period of the Olympic Games. A lot of counter-heat measures are being put in place to ensure the safety of the athletes and the spectators coming out to visit.

They are taking safety, along with everything else, into consideration so I think it’s going to be a great event.”

Harrigan-Scott, who recently retired from her career as a professional athlete, was appointed by the BVI Olympic Committee to manage all aspects of the VI athletes’ participation in Tokyo 2020.

“The role of Chef de Mission will be well-suited to Mrs. Harrigan-Scott who was the first female to represent the Virgin Islands at the Summer Olympic Games at Beijing 2008 and who since then also competed in the subsequent London 2012 and Rio 2016 Summer Olympics,” said Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC. “She has a wealth of experience in major international competitions that is unmatched by any other of our national athletes and we are fortunate that she accepted the role for what we anticipate will be an exciting Olympic Games for our roster of elite athletes who qualify to compete at Tokyo 2020.”

Harrigan-Scott’s athletic career
A long-serving athlete who represented the VI in athletics at various levels between 1998 through 2018, Harrigan-Scott made her debut competing regionally in the U17 division at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Junior Championships in the Cayman Islands and ended her international career as a finalist in the 100 meter dash at the North American, Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Open Championships in Toronto, Canada.

She was the VI’s first female athlete to win a gold medal at an international Games with her victory in the 100 meters at the 2006 CAC Games a feat she repeated at the same Games 4 years later. Harrigan-Scott’s most significant accomplishment, however, was winning a bronze medal at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in the 60 meter dash in 2008. She has also been a finalist at the Pan American and Commonwealth Games and a silver medalist in the 100m at the CAC Championships.

She currently holds the national athletics records in the 100m and 200m dashes as well as the 4x100m relay. She was also a national record holder in the long and triple jumps.

Harrigan-Scott was an outstanding student during her collegiate career and has provided leadership to many of her younger colleagues. On two occasions she and her husband, Joey Scott, himself a former athlete, conducted brief athletics camps in the Virgin Islands.

Committed to using her training and experiences as a professional athlete, Harrigan-Scott will be working with the BVI Olympic Committee on projects which will serve to advance the Long Term Athlete Development programme in the territory as well as providing input towards the elite athlete programme.