Caribbean Games relook
THE ON-AGAIN OFF-AGAIN Caribbean Games appear to be on – again.
One year after abandoning the concept, sporting officials have taken it off the shelf once more by proposing to stage the inaugural event next year following a meeting of the region’s ministers of sport.
Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley said that the staging of the Caribbean Games was the major talking point surrounding the just concluded 17th Special Meeting of the Council for Human and Social Development (Sport) in Guyana.
“This was in the aftermath of the Olympic Games and one of the things we wanted to do is to ensure that we can continue the momentum from the Olympic Games,” Lashley said.
“[So] there is a serious concerted focus of the ministers in the Caribbean to have those Games and we believe it will provide a platform for athletes to continue to perform.
“And, in time, it is expected and hoped that the Caribbean Games can be expanded where we have larger meets and invite international competitors to come to the Caribbean and compete against our athletes,” he added.
It’s just the latest attempt to revive a grand initiative that was originally slated to have 800 athletes contest athletics, tennis, netball, indoor volleyball and boxing in Trinidad and Tobago three years ago. But those Games were abandoned in July of that year after Trinidad’s then Minister of Health Jerry Narace announced concerns over the H1N1 Influenza A virus.
The country still managed to host the Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships that same month, though, before expressing an interest in staging the inaugural Caribbean Games in 2011.
However, the government subsequently changed in Trinidad and the new administration showed no interest in putting on the event, leaving the organizers – the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) – without a host country.
According to Lashley, Trinidad has once again expressed the desire to stage the inaugural event, while the region’s ministers have put in place a small organizing committee chaired by National Sports Council Director Erskine King.
“I am, of course, elated to hear that the Games are once again in the forefront of becoming a reality [because] this is one of the reasons CANOC was formed,” said chairman Steve Stoute.
“When Trinidad pulled out at the last minute, it was a devastating blow to the Olympic movement in the region because it not only hurt the athletes, but it also hurt our image on the world stage.
“Our reputation in the region took a big hit as the [International Olympic Committee] was looking on with great interest, but instead we gave the impression that the Caribbean is incompetent.”
CANOC is expected to discuss the Games at a meeting in Grand Cayman next week before the organizing committee, which will work with the CARICOM Secretariat, sits down to look at the event’s feasibility.
“Once the committee has completed its work, then the ministers should have a report on progress early in the New Year,” said Lashley.