Caribbean Games set to open in Guadeloupe following tumultuous build-up

CANOC President Brian Lewis reflects on the historic moment for Caribbean sports.

CANOC President Brian Lewis pictured with local organizers ahead of the 2022 Caribbean Games. Photo Credit: CANOC
CANOC President Brian Lewis pictured with local organizers ahead of the 2022 Caribbean Games. Photo Credit: CANOC

In just a few hours, the first edition of the Caribbean Games will open in Guadeloupe. Athletes from 30 countries and territories will gather at the Stade René Serge Nabajoth for what promises to be an historic occasion.

The gravity of the occasion was not lost on Brian Lewis, President of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC). In a statement to Around the Rings, he declared, “the first Caribbean Games, the historic Caribbean Games, will open today. To say that this is a historic moment in the history of the Caribbean Olympic and sport movement…there are no words.”

Lewis may have experienced a loss of words to describe the moment itself, but the Caribbean sports official was intimately cognizant of the effort it took to reach this day.

“This has been a journey of so many miles, overcoming so many obstacles and challenges,” decried Lewis. “Against all odds, the Caribbean Olympic Movement has united to use our strength of our unity.”

Commemorative pins made for the 2022 Caribbean Games. Photo Credit: CANOC
Commemorative pins made for the 2022 Caribbean Games. Photo Credit: CANOC

“Whether we are Spanish, Dutch, French, or English speaking, the unwavering, indomitable will that the collective has shown to make this moment happen sends a clear and loud statement of intent, inspiration, and motivation to the youth and young people of the Caribbean,” said Lewis.

It’s a statement that for so long seemed unlikely to be delivered.

The first edition of the Caribbean Games was originally planned for 2009 in Trinidad and Tobago. However, an outbreak of the H1N1 virus forced the cancellation of the event mere weeks before the opening ceremony.

Organizers surely got a sense of déjà vu when COVID-19 forced the postponement of the revived event to 2022.

In his statement to Around the Rings, Lewis defiantly stated, “we have overcome the devastation and debilitation of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

With the improvement of the epidemiological situation, organizers looked ready to stage the Caribbean Games at long last. Then, came the unexpected announcement with 50 days to go.

Flags fly ahead of the 2022 Caribbean Games. Photo Credit: CANOC
Flags fly ahead of the 2022 Caribbean Games. Photo Credit: CANOC

The venues due to host track cycling, athletics and netball had not been made available to local organizers in time for the Games. They scrambled to find replacement venues for the sports, ultimately saving athletics and netball, but the venue cancellations left track cycling off the sports program with no suitable replacements found.

It was an unfortunate blow to organizers, but importantly the event could still go ahead.

In spite of the last minute drama, Lewis remained appreciative of the efforts of local organizers. He stated, “we are immensely appreciative of the effort of Guadeloupe, the Guadeloupe Regional Olympic Sport Federation and the authorities in Guadeloupe that have supported this vision.”

Recovering from his earlier state of speechlessness, Lewis finally found the words to describe this special moment in the history of Caribbean sports.

“It’s massive, it’s awesome, and it is immense.”

The 2022 Caribbean Games will run from June 29 to July 3.