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Smaller games, harder to qualify

Sherrylyn A. Toppin

Smaller games, harder  to qualify

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Barbadian athletes will find it harder to qualify for the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games if a recommendation to reduce the spiraling numbers is adopted at the Congress in March.
A commission met in Puerto Rico last week to look at the rapidly expanding cost of hosting the games, and reducing the overall number of participants was one of several recommendations.
Barbados Olympic Association (BOA) president Steve Stoute was part of that commission.
“We are looking at the CAC Games and downsizing them a bit because we figure they are a little too big right now and soon no one will be able to host them,” Stoute told NATIONSPORT.
“No specific decisions have been made yet, but there is no doubt that the size of the games is going to be reduced and it is going to be harder to qualify. This was one of the games that we [BOA] used as a developmental tool in sending a large range of competitors in many sports. It means that it is going to be even more essential as a developmental tool.”
The last edition of the games was held in Puerto Rico last year. Through 60 per cent Government funding and 40 per cent sponsorship, they were able to host the games which had a price tag in excess of US$48 million, and the recommendation is that the numbers be reduced from 6 000 to 4 500.
The next games are scheduled to be held in Mexico in 2014 and Guatemala have bid to host in 2018.
Smaller numbers
Barbados have traditionally sent large numbers of athletes to these games which are used as a developmental meet. However, the number of individual athletes will be reduced as well as the team sports.
But even with these reduced numbers, Stoute said it was unlikely that a Caribbean nation would be able to host the games.
“In 1962, Jamaica hosted the games but at that time, the number of competitors was only about 1 500.
Since 1962, the numbers have gone up to about 6 000 with 30-something sports,” he said.
It was 1 559 athletes to be exact and only 15 sports were represented.
Another recommendation is that all of the events be held in one country to further reduce costs.
No satellite countries
“At the last CAC Games squash was in Colombia, rugby was in Guyana and rhythmic gymnastics
was in Guatemala. We have decided there will be no more satellite countries. Everything will have to be held in the host country. If the host country doesn’t have the ability to host squash, or rugby or gymnastics, that sport would not be held,” Stoute said.
Similarly, sports like water skiing for example, which don’t have high participation, will also be removed from the programme.
It cost the BOA approximately BDS$1.2 million to send about 250 athletes and officials to the 2010 games. Barbados was unable to duplicate the record 19 medals at the 2006 games, finishing 11th overall, with three gold, two silver and five bronze medals.