Arguably one of the world’s largest river traditions, the banksides of Belize—from San Ignacio to Belize City—buzz with excitement during this competitive, 4-day canoe race as the longest of its kind in Central America. Held annually near the National Heroes & Benefactors Day in March, onlookers cheer for the entirety of this Belize celebration: 175 miles. That is, with the exception of 2021; it’s the first year in 24 years that the La Ruta Maya race was not held. Now, Hon. Kevin Bernard—the former Minister of Sports who now holds the portfolio for the Ministry of Health & Wellness—gave the green light nod for the La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge, given protocols in place like socially-distanced supporters on the riverbanks and fully vaccinated paddlers.
Tentatively, the 25th La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge would take place on March 4th – 7th, 2022, since Monday will be observed as the National Heroes and Benefactors Day holiday in lieu of Wednesday, March 9th.
A Gradual Return to Events
With this change in sporting event protocols, Belizeans would then be seeing the return of several sporting disciplines and events in the coming months. That includes La Ruta Maya 2022.
“As the Minister of Health, I’m gonna say this: I support the fact that we need sports to open to a degree but we need to be responsible as well.”
– Hon. Kevin Bernard
I’ve continued – in fact, last week cabinet agreed that the SI effective the 15th of this month January that we will then allow sports fans to start to come out and participate in some of these at 50% capacity but for vaccinated people only.
Since its launch in 1998, the La Ruta Maya committee promised in 2021 following the event’s cancellation that the 25th La Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge would be a “reimagined” event that will attract more paddlers, fans, and sponsors. The committee also said, “Though it is true that the race will no longer take place in the way that we intended for 2021, we continue to strive toward our purpose; fostering environmental awareness, culture, and history of the Belize Old River and tourism development.”
The ease in these restrictions surrounding sports will be officially published in a statutory instrument early this week, as reported by Love FM News.