NEXT year's Island Games in Guernsey have been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic — a decision which will leave sportsmen and women across the Isle of Wight bitterly disappointed. 

The International Island Games Association (IIGA) announced the news to representatives from all 23 member islands during its AGM, held remotely this afternoon (Saturday).

The Isle of Wight Island Games Association (IWIGA) had two representatives sitting in on the meeting this afternoon — Terry Riddett, its secretary, and Richard Mumford, a trustee.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The IIGA chairman, Jorgen Pettersson, said the decision had not been taken lightly, but current regulations, and that the fact the pandemic was far from over, made hosting a multi-sports event like the Island Games, with an extimated 3,000 competitors, plus officials, almost impossible. 

IWIGA chairman, Kevin Winchcombe, told the County Press: "It is sad and we, as an association, are disappointed we will not be competing in next year's Island Games.

"However, we fully support the decision of the IIGA, which was not unexpected.

"To plan ahead for the Island Games and for athletes to be able to properly train to reach the levels they would need to reach to properly compete at them, would be near impossible."

Isle of Wight County Press:

No decision has been made on when the games will take place and what could happen to the planned Island Games in Orkney in 2023, said the IIGA.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has left the international sporting calendar in tatters this year.

The last Island Games were held in Gibraltar last year, with Team Isle of Wight picking up a record haul of medals, with optimism it may have be eneclipsed in Guernsey next year.

The IIGA said it will work with the organisers of Guernsey 2021 and Orkney 2023, the next hosts, to find a new date.

"We are dealing with two confirmed host islands — Guernsey and Orkney," said IIGA chairman, Jorgen Pettersson. 

"In order to get it right, we are not ready at this time to confirm the date or year for the next Island Games.

"As an executive committee, we will discuss the future games with Guernsey, Orkney, and our member islands, before we make a decision.

"We have waited for even the slightest possible opportunity to go on with the games in 2021, but we have to acknowledge the facts.

"The pandemic is not over. The quarantine regulations will continue to make planning forward very, very difficult — and even impossible.

"Therefore, it would not be fair to ask the member islands or the host island to commit financially to an event next summer.

"This has been a difficult decision to accept for all of us.

"I am truly sorry for this decision, but I also know the determination in our island communities and I am convinced we will come back in friendly competition under the umbrella of NatWest International Island Games as soon as possible."

Winchcombe concluded: "Many people, I know, have trained hard already for the games. But I would urge them to continue to keep their training up so they will be able to reach their peak levels for when we can return to international competition.

"Hopefully, the Island Games will be staged again in the not-too-distant future and that our sponsors will continue to support us."

Guernsey's Island Games organisers had frozen funding since March after the onset of the pandemic.

It would have been the third time the island had held the games after hosting events in 1987 and 2003.

The Island Games will also be hosted by Ynys Mon (Anglesey in north-west Wales) in future, but when that happens will depend on the developments surrounding the events planned for Guernsey and Orkney, the IIGA added.