‘Stability needed after Games postponement’

TEAM JERSEY chief Steve Jacobs admits Island Games hosts, officials and competitors are ‘still not out of the woods’, despite a decision to push all activity back by two years.

Steve Jacobs called for stability after it was announced the 2021 Island Games in Guernsey had been pushed back to 2023. PIC: Dave Pearson.
Steve Jacobs called for stability after it was announced the 2021 Island Games in Guernsey had been pushed back to 2023. PIC: Dave Pearson.

International Island Games Association officials announced last week that the 2021 edition in Guernsey – postponed in September due to Covid-19 – will now take place in 2023, with Orkney and Ynys Mon shifting their hosting duties to 2025 and 2027 respectively as a result. The decision followed initial discussions relating to a 12-month delay, which had the backing of a considerable number of Jersey’s squads.

However, Jacobs, chairman of the Island Games Association of Jersey, believes the pandemic recovery period could extend well into 2023 itself.

‘It is disappointing that we’ll have four years between Gibraltar and Guernsey but we have to get this virus out of the system and give the rest of the world time to adjust as well,’ he said. ‘The Games would just be a damp squib if everyone turned up rusty [in 2022].

‘It was about 50-50 when we went out to all of our sports here – around half of them wouldn’t have minded if it had been 2022. It’s in our favour as it’s only a short hop across the water but realistically, with all the other islands as well, we all need time to settle down with training and also arrange travel again. All of the competitors are pretty off-peak at the moment so this gives us an extra year to sort our qualifying standards again. And we’re 80% self-funding, which is obviously a big concern. A lot of people are out of work or on reduced work at the moment and they have more important things to spend cash on. This gives us extra time to fund raise.’

The IIGA’s decision to postpone the event in September came just a week before hotel deposits were due. That proved a short-term benefit for Team Jersey but Jacobs admits there are now concerns over hotel capacity for 2023.

‘We’re just hoping that hotels in Guernsey will continue to operate and won’t have to fold because of the pandemic,’ he explained. ‘We’re still not out of the woods. I think it is going to take that length of time [until 2023] to get everything back on track.’

That said, he does not anticipate a below-par return.

‘Guernsey 2023 will be more of a celebration now,’ Jacobs added. ‘It will be the first after the pandemic and it will likely make more people want to go.’

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