T&T senior men and women beach volleyballers quest for a spot at the Tokyo Olympic Games set for later this year have been put on hold due to the ongoing global coronavirus outbreak, which has been directly responsible for more than 10,00o deaths worldwide so far.
The top-ranked English-speaking country among the NORCECA beach volleyball playing nations, T&T was due to represent the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) along with US Virgin Islands in both men and women competitions at the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Inter-Zonal Continental Cup in Nicaragua which was due to begin on Thursday last (March 19) until Monday, March, 19-23.
Among the other countries listed to compete both in the men and women genders in the InterZonal Continental Cup, the semifinal round of NORCECA Olympic qualifiers are Eastern Caribbean Volleyball Association (ECVA) nations, St Kitts & Nevis, and St Lucia and host Nicaragua.
Guatemala qualified to compete in the men's part of the qualifiers as the second team from Central America while Costa Rica qualified among the women to the six-team qualifiers from which three men and four women teams are expected to advance to the NORCECA Final Round qualifiers.
In the men's Final Round, Canada will be represented by one team with the other already qualified to the Tokyo Olympics alongside neighbours USA (two teams) while Mexico, Dominican Republic and Cuba complete the six nations.
And in the women's Final Round, both Canada and USA have qualified their two teams to Tokyo leaving the way for Mexico and Dominic Republic along with the four qualifiers from the semifinal round to battle for the other spot.
However, those tournaments have been put on hold after a joint decision was made by the FIVB, NORCECA and the event organizers to postpone the qualifiers, and depending on how much progress is made in eradicating the spread of the virus, a new qualification could be implemented.
The NORCECA release stated that although as advised the risk level is currently low in Mexico and no cases have been reported by the health authorities in Nicaragua, there are international travel limitations in different parts of the world and especially within the North Central and Caribbean region that impact the travels of athletes, referees and control committee officials.
The health and well-being of athletes, officials and fans is the FIVB and NORCECA top priority, and the mutual decision to postpone the event was made in the best interests of all parties.
Further information on the rescheduled event date will be provided at a later stage. The FIVB and NORCECA recognize that the coronavirus outbreak is a worldwide concern and, therefore, it is likely that there will be further changes to the beach volleyball calendar.
The FIVB is in contact with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) about potentially revising the beach volleyball qualification system for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Any potential changes will be communicated to all the relevant stakeholders at a later stage.
The FIVB and NORCECA express its deepest sympathy and solidarity to those affected by the outbreak, and we will continue to carefully monitor the situation in full cooperation with the World Health Organization and other international and national health and sports authorities.
In addition to the NORCECA Olympic Qualifiers, FIVB Beach Volleyball 4-star event scheduled for March, 24-29 in Cancun, Mexico has also been postponed.