T&T senior men and women beach volleyballers quest for a next year's rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games has been put on hold until next year.
This after the NORCECA Beach Commission took a decision on Thursday to postponed its entire 2020 Beach Volleyball season due to the ongoing global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic which has affected sport in every aspect.
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 carded for March, 19 to 23.
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 the Dominican Republic along with the four qualifiers from the semifinal round to battle for the other spot.
However, following the meeting chaired NORCECA President, Cristobal Marte Hoffiz, President of the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Commission, Canada's Eduard Drakich, T&T's Daymian Stewart, a NORCECA Beach Volleyball Commission senior member and Mushtaque Mohammed, President of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA), a unanimous decision was taking to cancel the entire NORCECA Tour for the remainder 2020 as well as postponing Continental Cup Olympic qualifiers.
According to a NORCECA earlier 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 and any potential changes will be communicated to all the relevant stakeholders at a later stage.
When contacted for comment Stewart said that the T&TVF has a unique opportunity where the goal post has been shifted backwards given us more time to prepare ourselves for a shot at the Olympics.
He added, "We have time now to ensure that all our players are ready and we have more players now available to us, inclusive of those returning from injuries and others from matters that would have made them unavailable before.
Stewart added that NORCECA also approved an annual Youth Championship for athletes up to 20 years-old that will qualify teams to Under-19 and Under-21 FIVB World Championship and Youth Pan American Games.
With regards to the 2021 NORCECA Tour, Steward said, "Next year's tour will be of great incentive to participating teams and countries with for the least the top four national federations in each gender qualifying to the Senior FIV World Championship carded for Rome, Italy in 2022.
He added, "The NORCECA Youth Championships will qualifies teams to the major international events, but for the Youth Olympics, NORCECA has six spots available for qualification, and the highest team in each zone will qualify automatically along with the next two highest-ranked teams.
"So it's exciting times coming out of a difficult Covid-19 situation for NORCECA, CAZOVA and the T&TVF and we only have good things to look forward too."
"Some of the decisions made by NORCECA today (yesterday) are important for us and gives us the chance to put things in place so that we can capitalise.
Concerning the local teams' chances of attaining qualification to these major events, Stewart said he was very optimistic.
"At present, the T&TVF has a pool of very good young players who will also have a chance to go to the first NORCECA Youth Championship and put themselves in a position to qualify the under-age teams to the Youth Olympics, Youth Pan American Games and FIVB Under-19 and Under-21 Championships," stated Stewart.