CARIFTA 2019 LOC denies outstanding monies owed

In the saga of Cayman Islands track and field athletes being banned from events sanctioned by the North American Central American and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC), members of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the 2019 CARIFTA Games have said that it is news to them that there are outstanding monies owed to visiting federations by the LOC.

In a letter circulated to Cayman Islands Athletic Association (CIAA) membership on 25 July, the association’s president Lance Barnes indicated that because of approximately US$50,000 in outstanding reimbursements owed by the LOC, NACAC had placed sanctions on Cayman’s athletes from competing in NACAC-sanctioned events, including the Olympics.

But a media release on 28 July, from six LOC members, stated: “We unequivocally reject that any such reimbursement is owed by the LOC and we stand firmly behind our decision to consider the claim as invalid,” adding they were “prioritising our fiduciary obligation to safeguard the funding that was entrusted to us by the Cayman Islands Government and other sponsors of the 2019 CARIFTA Games.”

It went on to state: “We have become aware of the current situation through the same medium as the general public – the media. On that basis, we are not in a position to comment on the accuracy of the details in the public domain including the grounds for the sanction.”

Affixing their names to that communication were: Jacqueline Haynes, Osbert Francis, Evelyn Rockett, Darrel Rankine, Scimone Campbell, and Collin Anglin. Barnes and Joel Francis of the Sports Ministry served as LOC co-chairs. Francis has not issued any comment.

At issue is whether visiting delegations were overcharged for accommodations for the Games. The LOC members explained that their obligations were set out in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between NACAC, CIAA, and the LOC. That agreement stipulated that the LOC was required to provide accommodation for the five-night period 18-22 April 2019.

“We confirm that the LOC booked and paid for all such accommodations in line with the MOU,” they stated, adding that the MOU allowed the LOC to propose a rate for extra team officials above the set limit and for accommodation outside of the period of the Games.

“We became aware of concerns surrounding the fees and allegations that we had breached policy in relation to accommodation costs for extra officials following the meeting of the NACAC congress held on 22nd April 2019. Other than Mr. Barnes, the LOC was not represented at that meeting.

“It is our understanding that in response to concerns raised and in the absence of an adequate explanation from Mr Barnes, the Minster indicated her commitment to meeting the NACAC Agreement and reimbursing the Member Federations where necessary,” the LOC letter to the media stated.

They explained that reviews were done to ensure compliance and inquiries made of NACAC President Victor Lopez and other members of the NACAC council.

“In late 2019 Cydonie Mothersill (CIAA General Secretary and then incoming NACAC Council Member) finally sought to clarify what we had suspected all along. There was no documented policy. Per Ms. Mothersill’s clarification it was ‘tradition’ that part of the accommodation costs for excess officials be absorbed by the LOC. This position was reaffirmed by President Lopez and Treasurer Alain Jean Pierre,” the release stated.

It added that the LOC went about ensuring all financial obligations for the Games were met and on 22nd January 2020 convened a meeting to decide on two final payment requests which were in dispute, one of which was the levy reimbursement for excess officials which amounted to just under US$5,000 (“Levy Reimbursement”).

The LOC members insist a unanimous decision was made that that the request for the Levy Reimbursement was denied. This, they stated, was because the fees charged were sanctioned by the terms of the MOU and fully outlined in the technical manual that was agreed to and provided to NACAC member federations ahead of the Games.

Additionally, “It was unreasonable that at this late stage NACAC would seek to enforce a policy which they could not evidence exists, particularly in light of the various financial commitments within the MOU that had not been realized on their part.” Sports Minister Juliana O’Connor-Connolly was then notified of the decision.

“To be clear the LOC did not receive a direction from the Minister to pay the Reimbursement Levy, rather the Minister entrusted us to ensure that if the request was in keeping with the agreement (MOU), it should be honored. We maintain that it was not,” the LOC members stated.

Meantime, Barnes has indicated the CIAA was “earnestly working with the Ministry and NACAC to resolve this issue as quickly as possible”.

See full statement from the LOC members here:

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