The 2021 Island Games has been called off because of Covid-19.
The event was due to take place in Guernsey next July, but has now been cancelled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The International Island Games Association made the decision at its virtual AGM on Saturday.
The group's Chairman, Jorgen Pettersson, says the decision was not made lightly:
"[The decision] was based on the responses received from the recent survey undertaken with Member Islands, coupled with the best medical advice that could be obtained. First and foremost, in making the decision was the wellbeing of all the Member Island’s sports people and the impact that any importation of the virus into Guernsey would have on their Island.
'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 as soon as possible’.
Dame Mary Perkins, chair of the Guernsey 2021 Organising Committee added ‘The Organising Committee have been contingency planning since March and have had several meetings with Dr Nicola Brink and the Scientific and Technical Advisory Cell (STAC) as well as communicating with the other Member Islands.
'In addition, we have used the World Health Organisation’s ‘Planning for large scale events’ guidance as a template for our decision-making process. We have been in regular contact with the International Island Games Executive Committee and have kept them fully updated so that they have all of the information they need in order to make their decisions about the Games.
'In all of our planning, the health and safety of our athletes, volunteers, spectators, supporters and our Guernsey community have always been our priority, and will continue to be so. Whereas we know that this announcement comes as a huge disappointment, we would like to thank all our volunteers, sponsors and sports coordinators for their continued support’.
The Faroe Islands were initially chosen to host the games in 2021 but pulled out in early 2015.
In July 2016 the Island Games AGM unanimously decided to award the hugely popular event to Guernsey. It was to have been the first member Island to host the competition three times.
23 member islands, up to 3,500 competitors, support teams and technical officials and 1000 local volunteers and games makers were due to be involved.
Jorgen Pettersson said they have to continue forward planning. 'We are dealing with two confirmed Host Islands – Guernsey in 2021 and Orkney in 2023. The IIGA Executive Committee will discuss the future Games with Guernsey and Orkney and our Member Islands before we make a decision on the dates for the next Games.
'There will be many different aspects on this, and we want to make a full analysis including sports, economy, political support and, of course, the continued fight towards the pandemic. Whatever happens, our main focus is for all our Member Islands to stay healthy and well. We would like to stress the importance of the fact that we are not cancelling. We are adjusting the map in order to make it compliant with the current reality’.
Guernsey 2021 Games Director Julia Bowditch added ‘We will keep everyone informed as soon as we know about a decision on the revised dates. We will all continue to work as hard as we can to put on the best event possible and give Guernsey, Orkney and the other Member Islands something to look forward to’.