BVIOC Presents Team for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games

Team IVB for Tokyo 2020

The Virgin Islands (UK) Team for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games is today confirmed by the BVI Olympic Committee and Chef de Mission, Mrs. Tahesia Harrigan-Scott to include two track and field athletes and one swimmer. Kyron McMaster will compete in the men’s 400m hurdles and Chantel Malone will compete in the women’s long jump. Swimmer Elinah Phillip will compete in the women’s 50m freestyle. The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games take place in Japan July 23 – August 8, 2021.

McMaster and Phillip will be the flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony on July 23. The athletes will be in clothing and masks respectively designed by Virgin Islanders Ms. Rhenique Cooper and Ms. Kristin Fraser.

This will be the first Olympic Games for McMaster and Malone while Phillip made her Olympic debut at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil where she was the VI’s youngest athlete and the first to represent the Territory in aquatics at any Olympics.

While Olympian Eldred Henry had an automatic qualification to compete in the shot put at Tokyo 2020, ongoing recovery from an injury in his throwing arm resulted in the decision to step down from the team.

“I am proud to present our athletes for Tokyo 2020,” said Chef Harrigan-Scott, a three times Olympian in the 100m sprint. “Even though COVID-19 has drastically changed the dynamics of the Olympic Games, it did not waiver the determination or drive of our brilliant athletes. They have prepared vigorously to represent the Virgin Islands in their respective events coming up in the next few weeks and, after communicating with each of the athletes and watching their preparatory competitions leading up to Tokyo 2020, I am confident that they will make these Virgin Islands proud.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Tokyo 2020 Games to be rescheduled by one year to take place in the summer of 2021, the IOC, Tokyo 2020 Organisers and the Government of Japan have issued stringent protocols set out in regularly updated Playbooks to ensure the health and safety of all athletes, personnel, delegates, media and the people of Japan. The strict measures for the VI delegation are overseen by appointed COVID Liaison Officers (CLOs) BVIOC Secretary General Mr. Lloyd Black and Chef Harrigan-Scott.

The Chef de Mission highlighted how the response to the pandemic has differentiated Tokyo 2020 from previous Olympic Games. Precautions include restrictive movement of the delegation, strict COVID-19 counter measures which include daily temperature and COVID-19 testing, the inability to attend other sporting events, limited-to-no guest allowance in the Olympic Village, the lack of spectators from foreign countries, no site seeing by the delegation and every movement in Tokyo and Japan needing to be pre-approved by the Japanese Government.

“The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games probably are one of the most anticipated Games in sports,” said Mr. Penn. “The continuing changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have been quite a challenge and on behalf of the BVIOC, I highly commend all our athletes and Chef de Mission for their focus, determination and tireless efforts which have resulted in thorough preparation and impressive performances with new national records set in all three disciplines by Chantel, Kyron and Elinah in the lead up to the Tokyo 2020 Games. We are sad that Eldred will not be joining the team in person but intend to include him in our reports from Tokyo 2020. We are extremely proud of all our athletes have achieved thus far and will be in Japan to give our support and to watch them perform at the 32nd Olympiad.”

The delegation to Tokyo will include BVIOC President Mr. Ephraim Penn, Secretary General Mr. Lloyd Black, athlete coaches Mr. Lennox Graham (McMaster), Mr. Dwight Phillipe (Malone), Mr. Brien Moffitt (Phillip) and Mr. Winston Potter (team coach). Dr. The Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley MHA, Deputy Premier, Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture is also slated to attend the Games pending travel restrictions.

“I want to congratulate these hardworking individuals for this momentous achievement. It is even more exciting knowing that we have athletes, through their hard work, who are poised to compete for medal and I plan to be there to cheer them along waving our Virgin Islands flag. I wish all our athletes well; we are extremely proud of you!” said the Dr. The Honourable Minister Wheatley.

Daily updates will be posted on the BVIOC social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and reports will be disseminated to media from the BVIOC PRO, Sofia Fay, Broadsword Communications, who will be in Tokyo to cover the VI’s athletes.

Shot putter Eldred Henry steps out of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games due to elbow injury


Official Joint Statements Eldred Henry, BVI Athletics Association, BVI Olympic Committee

BVI shot putter Eldred Henry at the Doha 2019 World Athletics Championships. Photo credit: CM Farrington Photography

On Monday, June 28, 2021 national shot put champion and Olympian, Eldred Henry communicated with the BVI Athletics Association President, Mr. Steve Augustine to advise that, due to the recovery process from an injury in his right elbow, he would not be competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this summer.

“It is with deep sadness that I have had to make the tough call not to compete in the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan this summer. The injury in the elbow of my throwing arm is one that has been an underlying issue for a few months but which was being treated and kept at bay through my pre-COVID-19 training regime which allowed me to compete at the beginning of this season. Unfortunately, the injury flared up during my warmup at the 2021 Track Meet on May 15 in South California and required further investigation including an MRI.

“The treatment and full recovery process requires more time than is left for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and after consultation with my coach Tony Dougherty and doctors working on the treatment, I conferred with the BVIAA and BVI Olympic Committee and it was agreed that I would not compete in Japan and risk putting my athletic career in jeopardy. Instead I will concentrate on making a full and proper recovery to regain my optimal performance level for the future Games coming up in 2022 and leading up to Paris 2024. I am grateful for all the support I receive from both the BVIAA and the BVIOC and feel frustrated and disappointed not to be able to represent my country at the Olympics this year. I will be in daily contact with the athletes attending Tokyo 2020 and look forward to supporting the team all the way,” said Henry.

In his consultation with President Augustine, Henry explained that while the treatment is working, the recovery is still ongoing and that the technical functionality is not fully restored. While willing to compete if that was the consensus of the BVIAA and the BVIOC, it was clear that if Henry was to proceed with participating at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the restrictions of the injury would impede his ability to throw at his best distances and he would risk further damage to his elbow and hand.

“Eldred Henry is clearly one of our leading athletes and I was very sorry to learn that the extent of his injuries will now take him off the roster for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Our primary sympathies are with Eldred whose training and focus were geared towards the ultimate competition at these rescheduled Olympics. We know that in the best of conditions he would have done us proud and are in complete agreement that he should not compete while recovering from an injury that will directly affect his performance and possibly his future athletic career. We understand that the intensive treatment programme Eldred is undergoing is designed to deliver a solid result and we wish him all the best on his road to recovery and training to get him back on track for the upcoming competitions including the World Championships in Oregon, USA in July 2022 Oregon,” said Augustine.

In a letter dated June 28, 2021, the BVIAA officially notified the BVIOC that Henry would no longer be in the team of track and field athletes going to Tokyo 2020 this summer.

“The BVIOC and the Chef de Mission, Mrs. Tahesia Harrigan-Scott, as Team BVI’s Olympic family are very empathetic to Eldred’s situation and understand the frustration and disappointment that comes with making the final decision not to compete at an Olympic Games. Eldred has trained hard under challenging conditions. He told us that he was feeling at his peak in February 2020 and had been ready to impress in the summer of 2020. The pandemic had interrupted his training schedule and his competition level preparations and just as he was getting back on track, the latent injury put a stop to his programme.

“Eldred has impressed us with his resilience and dedication to his sport and his desire to represent his country with pride. He remains our top shot put athlete and we are proud of all that he has achieved thus far and know there is more to come under the continued training and guidance of his long-time coach, Anthony Dougherty. We will continue to support Eldred during his recovery period and his future focus on preparations for the upcoming major competitions including the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the 2022 CACs, Santiago 2023 Panam Games and Paris 2024 Summer Olympic Games,” said Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC.

Henry was the first of the VI’s athletes to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games when he threw the shot put a distance of 21.47m.(70′ 5 1/4 “) at the Kingsville, Texas meet in 2019 to also secure the outdoor national, OECS, GMAC and NCAA DII records with his personal best throw. He also holds the indoor shot put national, OECS and NCAA DII records with a throw of 20.61m (60′ 7.5”). He is a CAC bronze medalist. His highest world men’s shot put ranking is #20 and is ranked #6 in the region.

Tokyo 2020 would have been Henry’s second Olympics with his first appearance at the Rio 2016 Games.

iFOREX partners with BVI Olympic Committee to support National Team’s journey to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

iFOREX – a leading global financial broker with offices in the BVI – announced its partnership with the British Virgin Islands Olympic Committee (BVIOC) and will act as sponsors of the Virgin Islands (UK) Olympic team on its journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

A spokesperson for Formula Investment House Ltd, operator of the www.iFOREX.com website, said: “As a company licensed in the British Virgin Islands, we have first-hand awareness of the spirit and potential of this exceptional team and we are proud and excited to support the athletes in their remarkable efforts to bring home the Territory’s first Olympic medal.”

So far, those who have qualified include Kyron McMaster in the Men’s 400m Hurdles, Eldred Henry in the Men’s Shot Put, and Chantel Malone in the Women’s Long Jump.

It is believed that the partnership marks the first occasion an investment firm has sponsored a National Olympic Committee and iFOREX joins athletic brand PUMA as one of the BVIOC’s two official sponsors.

For over 25 years, iFOREX has remained one of the largest and most respected firms in the Fintech industry, emerging early on as an industry leader in technological innovation and with a dedication to trust and excellence.

“By lining up with PUMA, known for its history of performance and athletic support, we’re proud to help the BVI’s athletes to represent their country with devotion and determination,” said an iFOREX spokesperson.

Throughout the sponsorship, iFOREX will show its support for the BVI Olympic Team with online content chronicling the team’s journey from their training camps to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, as well as the team’s results, which will be available to both clients and staff all over the world at iFOREX News.

Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC commented on the partnership, saying: “The BVI Olympic Committee is very happy that a respectable and successful investment firm such as iFOREX has identified the potential of the BVI team for Tokyo 2020. We have a strong line up of athletes for these Games so far and the additional support is very much appreciated as the athletes prepare to bring their best performance to Japan continuing to make us very proud as a nation.”

Panam Sports to offer 4000 vaccines to athletes and officials traveling to Tokyo

Panam Sports has reached an important agreement with the University of Miami and the Mexican Consulate in Miami to receive 4,000 vaccines that will be used to help ensure the health of the athletes and officials who will participate in the Tokyo Olympic Games this July, as well as the entirety of the Pan American Family.

“We know that in many of our countries throughout the continent it is very difficult to receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Therefore, we have made a significant effort to reach this outstanding agreement that will help all of the athletes who have not had the chance to become inoculated. Now these athletes have the opportunity to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States, and thus travel with better protection to compete at the Tokyo Olympics,” said Panam Sports President, Neven Ilic.

“I want to offer my greatest appreciation to the University of Miami, the Mexican Consulate in Miami, and our Executive Committee member, Jimena Saldaña. They all helped us achieve our goal of vaccinating the athletes and officials who will participate in Tokyo, as well as those who will be in Cali this November,” Ilic added.

Panam Sports has already sent an official document to all the National Olympic Committees to inform them of this great opportunity. The organization will cover the cost of the air tickets for those who travel to Miami to receive their vaccines.

The NOCs must send their request listing the athletes and officials they wish to be vaccinated as soon as possible so they can be inoculated at least 30 days before entering Japan.

Chantel Malone joins long jump 7-meter club, qualifies for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games

Chantel Malone, winner of the Long Jump Gold Lima 2019 Pan American Games, qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics with a national record and PB leap of 7.08m, PHOTO: Todd VanSickle

With 4 months to go until the long jump qualifying round on August 1, 2021 at the Summer Olympic Games in Japan, British Virgin Islands national, Chantel Malone joined the long jump 7-meter club when she surpassed the Tokyo 2020 qualifying mark of 6.82m with a leap of 7.08m (23’ 2 3/4”)+1.4 wind at The Florida International Pro Addition Track Meet at IMG Academy in Bradenton on Saturday, March 27, 2021.

Malone won her first event of the outdoor season in her fourth jump after landing a 6.83m distance in the second round and fouling her third attempt. 2nd place went to Darla Klishina (7.05m 23’ 1 3/4” and 3rd spot to Akela Jones (6.58 21’ 7 1/4”).

“We’ve been working really hard these last 2 month. Mostly focusing on technical execution and my speed,” said Malone. “I’m pretty excited about what future holds. This season will be a good one once I remain healthy. I love being a part of the 7m club. I’ve been working towards it for a very long time. Finally achieving that goal is a testament to my resilience and determination. This is only the beginning!”

Chantel Malone joins long jump 7-meter club, qualifies for Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games
The mark, which currently is officially ranked the world’s second longest jump of the year, is a new national record beating Malone’s previous jump of 6.90m (22’ 7 3/4”) and is a personal best. She is the second Caribbean woman to jump beyond seven meters.

“This is a fantastic result on many levels and we congratulate Chantel on her record setting achievement in the long jump,” said Ephraim Penn, President of the BVI Olympic Committee, the body responsible for the nation’s participation in major Games including the Olympics. “These past twelve months have been an extreme challenge for our athletes who have had to continue to train and prepare for the re-scheduled Summer Olympic Games, working within the constraints of COVID-19 protocols and foregoing the regular competitions and qualifying events that would normally help them on the road to the Olympics.

“To break through the psychological barrier and stay focused on the goal to perform at world class levels is highly impressive and we commend Chantel for her grit and determination. We encourage our slate of athletes to keep their eye on the prize and continue with their excellent efforts.”

Malone joins Tokyo 2020 qualifiers Eldred Henry (shot put) and Kyron McMaster (400m hurdles) along with Elinah Phillip (50m & 100m Freestyle), a sophomore at Florida International University, who is making her mark at the recently resumed swim meets.

This will be the first Olympic Games for Malone and McMaster who each were respective gold medal winners at the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Both achievements were historic for the Territory as the first medals to be won by VI nationals in those Games. Malone is the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games silver medalist and also holds the OECS long jump record.

IOC, NOCs and Government of Japan reaffirm commitment to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games

Tokyo, Japan Photo: Yoshikazu Sekiguchi

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spoke with all 206 NOCs including the BVIOC on Friday, January 22 and confirmed all are fully committed to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games.

With 6 months to go until the Games, President Bach reaffirmed the IOC’s commitment to the Games to be held on July 23, 2021. “Together with its Japanese partners and friends, the IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year.”

BVIOC President Ephraim Penn and Secretary General, Lloyd Black took part in the virtual meeting.

“The IOC and organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games have been in continuous discussions on how to host the Games safely – both for the competing athletes and delegations as well as for the host country,” said Mr. Penn. “There is full commitment to seeing the Games through which is a message that must be made clear to all athletes who are currently training and preparing to compete.”

The BVIOC through Chef de Mission for the Games, Mrs. Tahesia Harrigan-Scott have constant contact with the elite track and field athletes slated to compete at Tokyo 2020. This includes Eldred Henry (shot put) and Kyron McMaster (400m Hurdles) qualified for their events in 2019 and Chantel Malone (long jump) and Tokyo 2020 hopeful Ashley Kelly (400m).

“All of our athletes are doing well,” said Mrs. Harrigan-Scott. “While their training schedules had to be adapted to meet with the COVID-19 restrictions and regulations, all four of the athletes are focused, working hard and are determined to be on their best form when the summer comes around. There’s no denying that the lack of competitions and a dead season can take its toll, but they each have a support network not just through their coaches and peers, but also through each other and a pro-active Executive at the BVIOC who ensure that their needs are being met so as to minimize any distraction from the task at hand.”

In addition to the elite athletes, Thad Lettsome (sailing) and Elinah Philip (swimming) are also hopeful of gaining a spot on the team through the Universality programme but this will not be confirmed until closer to the Games in July.

Mrs. Harrigan-Scott will be attending the Chef de Mission meeting on February 9 where updates on the preparations for the Games will be shared by the Tokyo 2020 organisers.

Rumours of cancellation “categorically untrue”
A statement issued by the IOC on January 22 also rebutted news reports which cast doubt on the support from the Tokyo Government quoting a statement made by the Japanese Government:

“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue.

“At an IOC Executive Board meeting in July last year, it was agreed that the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be held on July 23 this year, and the programme and venues for the Games were rescheduled accordingly. All parties involved are working together to prepare for a successful Games this summer.

“We will be implementing all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer.”

BVIOC secures IOC approval for Territorial Song to be played at Olympic Games and other institutional events

British Virgin Islands Kyron Mcmaster won the men’s 400m hurdles final in a time of 48.25 seconds during the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games at the Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast on April 12, 2018. It was the Virgin Islands’ first medal at a Commonwealth Games and was the impetus for the BVI Olympic Committee’s request to have the Territorial Song, “Oh Beautiful Virgin Islands” registered by the International Olympic Committee to be played at sporting events rather than the National Anthem, “God Save the Queen”. The IOC confirmed the change in May 2020. .Photo credit: SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Marking another historic moment in sports for the Virgin Islands, the BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) received approval from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the Territorial Song, “Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands” to be played at future editions of the Olympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games and other institutional events and official activities of the IOC and its Affiliated Entities. The permission was confirmed by the IOC via email sent on May 7, 2020 after the BVIOC started the process for approval in 2018.

“The BVIOC is exceptionally proud to attain this milestone not just for our nation but for our athletes, their coaches, parents and supporters,” said Mr. Ephraim Penn, President of the BVIOC. “The motivation and emotion that is tied up in representing your country at a major competition can’t be underestimated. Hearing your national song playing as you enter an arena or when you stand on the podium enhances the sense of achievement and pride and underscores all the sacrifices, time and effort that athletes, teams and their support base put in to qualify and compete.”

Prior to this date, the national anthem, “God Save The Queen”, was played at major regional and international competitions and events during opening, closing and medal ceremonies to acknowledge the participation and podium finishes of the VI’s athletes and teams.

The BVIOC launched the process for approval at the urging of the former Minister for Education and Culture, Mr. Myron Walwyn who enquired about the possibility after Mr. Kyron McMaster’s historic gold medal win in the 400m Hurdles on April 12, 2018 at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. The emotional occasion was made all the more poignant for it happening just 6 months after the devastation wreaked in the VI by Hurricane Irma and the tragic passing of McMaster’s mentor and national track and field coach, Mr. Xavier “Dag” Samuels. At that time, it became clear that the Territorial Song, which speaks to the VI’s national pride and identity, would have been the ideal accompaniment to the flag raising and medal ceremony.

Further noting that the VI was one of the few nations that did not have its national song approved to be played at major sporting events, Penn made the inquiries and acted on the requirements to change the anthem registered with the IOC from the National Anthem to the Territorial Song.

The initiative was closely followed and encouraged by Dr. The Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, the current Minister for Education and Culture, and the BVIOC was able to secure the support required from the Government of the Virgin Islands to initiate the official request. The BVIOC worked with the Ministry of Education and Culture to “be duly authorized and/or licensed to use and to authorise and/or sublicense the use of the Territorial Song,” as set out in the IOC’s National Anthem Authorisation document.

“Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands” originally was composed in 2012 by Virgin Islanders, Ms. Ayana Hull and her brother, Mr. Kareem Nelson Hull in response to a competition for a Territorial Song launched by Walwyn, the then Minister for Education and Culture. The song, which was originally arranged by Mr. Howard John, was officially adopted as the Territorial Song by resolution of the House of Assembly of the Virgin Islands on July 24, 2012. As a British Overseas Territory “God Save the Queen” is the VI’s official national anthem.

The rousing, 80-second, orchestral version of the Territorial Song, requested by the BVIOC and approved by the Ministry for use by the IOC, was arranged by Mr. Alton Bertie, an Elmore Stoutt High School alumnus who graduated in the field of Film Scoring and Song Writing from the Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA.

Click to listen to the score for the Territorial Song by Mr. Alton Bertie.

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.”