Stoute knocks games dodging
STEVE STOUTE can’t understand the reluctance of regional countries to host the Caribbean Games.
Not when the benefits are so obvious.
The chairman of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) believes the region is doing its emerging athletes and their fans a terrible disservice by continually refusing to stage the multi-sport games.S
toute’s comments came in light of the games’ uncertain status after Trinidad and Tobago put off hosting the inaugural Caribbean event for the second time.
“Caribbean people seldom get to see the top Caribbean stars – whether they be the Usain Bolts, the Ryan Brathwaites, the Bradley Allys, the George Bovells – so this should be a tremendous motivator for countries to try and stage these games,” reasoned Stoute.
“In 2009, there was a lot of concern about getting the top competitors, however, we had a commitment from Usain Bolt in principle and Asafa Powell along with the top regional swimmers.
“Also, it’s becoming harder and harder for athletes from small countries to qualify for Pan Am Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympic Games, so we need a vehicle of our own that can bring our up-and-coming sports people together in a multi-sport environment.”
Originally slated for Trinidad two years ago, the inaugural Caribbean Games were called off just weeks before the July 12 opening ceremony amidst health concerns about an outbreak of the swine flu [the influenza H1N1 virus].
However, the country went on to stage the Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships just one month later, fuelling speculation that the concerns were more financial than health-related.
Trinidad committed to hosting the games this year, but a new government was voted in and, according to Stoute, the new Ministry of Sport showed no interest in putting on the event.
Since then, CANOC has been unsuccessful in finding a replacement for Trinidad, leaving the games’ future in further doubt.
And Stoute is questioning the financial reasons countries have given for turning down the meet.
“Some regional countries have put in bids for other international competitions such as the Junior Commonwealth Championships, which comprise approximately the same number of competitors and [would] be of a similar cost,” he said.
“To me, that would be a country utilising scarce resources in helping to promote external athletes as opposed to trying to promote regional sport.”
Barbados’ International Olympic Committee member Austin Sealy originally conceptualised a multi-sport regional games in 1985 when the CARIFTA Games expanded to include tennis, table tennis, cycling, swimming and later basketball.
But the meet only stayed in that format for a few years before each sport branched off into its own regional championship after 1989.
“I think the primary concern is [that] countries feel they do not have the wherewithal to accommodate 1 500 competitors and officials in one location, but Barbados showed it could be done in 1985,” advanced Stoute.
“At this point I see no hope on the horizon, although countries like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic have hinted that they will be prepared to host it. But we wanted the first games to be in the English-speaking Caribbean.”