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Mushtaque Mohammed, president of CAZOVA and T&TVF

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Mushtaque Mohammed, president of the Caribbean Zonal Volleyball Association (CAZOVA) says he expects a few more nations to decline to compete in upcoming competitions shortly due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Mohammed, who was returned as CAZOVA boss last November at its annual congress in Jamaica and is also the president of the T&T Volleyball Federation was commenting following the decision by The North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA), the governing body for the sport in North America, Caribbean and Central American Zone to postpone or cancel several regional and international beach and indoor volleyball events.

Earlier this month NORCECA president, Cristobal Marte Hoffiz speaking to confederation members during a virtual meeting made a dramatic call for optimism and confidence amid the virus outbreak.

Hoffiz said, “The world has gone through very difficult times before and the human race has been able to overcome them and I am sure we are going to win the battle against the virus sooner than later,” he added.

Due to the ungoing COVID-19 crisis, several beach and indoor volleyball events have been postponed or cancelled but Hoffiz was confident the action will be back before the year is over.

And in a meeting with his CAZOVA confederations, Mohammed added that the global pandemic has impacted sports generally as players are unable to train with their respective teams and clubs, nor participate in competitions.

He said, “This is most countries have been practising social distancing measures and have implemented travel restrictions which also impact the ability to participate in international events.

“As such, the board of CAZOVA discussed the future of the six tournaments planned for 2020 with the Under-23 men and women already being postponed from April to a date to be determined via ZOOM meeting on April 22 involving all 14 federations.

The meeting discussed the effects of the coronavirus on the scheduled CAZOVA competitions and the rationale for the discontinuation of the NORCECA Development Fund for 2020.

Due to virus and governments focusing on the health crisis, all members stated that their ability to seek sponsorship from private and public entities is non-existent.

Public welfare is the priority over sports, and most businesses are experiencing a major reduction in profits due to most countries facing some sort of quarantine and curfew.

Commenting on the decisions taken Mohammed said Bahamas has already stated that it will no longer be able to host the Senior CAZOVA World Championship qualifiers, while Suriname will only be able to host one event instead of two and as such agreed to host the men tournament and Guadeloupe is uncertain as this stage as there are many government factors which are not favourable at this point.

He aded, “We are in tough times and we understand the financial pressures that some of the countries are facing as countries continue with their limited resources due to the lockdown in most countries.

“We were expected to have 14 countries participate in both the men and women World Indoor Championships qualifiers, and already we have been informed that both Turks & Caicos, and Bonaire have opted out, leaving us with 12 nations who will now compete in two groups of six.”

“However, that figure is still to be finalised as we anticipate that some more countries are expected to follow suit and decline competing as they would not have the financial support of their respective governments, whom we expect will be more focus on getting their respective countries back on stable financial footing when the pandemic is over.”

“Countries will also have the burden of funding their own teams travelling expenses as NORCECA has taken a decision that teams that had qualified to participate in the Continental Championships will not receive support for airline tickets from the governing body.”

“So as we move forward, we have decided that at the end of each month we at CAZOVA will be updating all countries on the status of the events, in terms of hosting and competing nations,” ended Mohammed.

Concerning the NORCECA Beach Volleyball Tour which was expected to have ten stages for the 2020 season, Mohammed noted that both Cayman Islands (September 24-28) and Jamaica (November 12-16) will no longer be on the calendar.

“Besides, there may also be a few more cancellations as based on the current situation most countries cannot commit to participating in tournaments but can only decide after the pandemic is over.