Is Gov­ern­ment Pass­ing The Buck Over Com­mon­wealth Youth Games?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By David R Pas­cal

It is of­ten said that sports and pol­i­tics don’t mix. Think again! They need to co-ex­ist in a big way for Saint Lu­cia to host the 2017 Youth Com­mon­wealth Games.

Dur­ing his bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony spoke about the games but first un­der­scored that it was the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion that had agreed to the host­ing of the games. He said, how­ever, that as leader of the op­po­si­tion he had en­dorsed the de­ci­sion. “Faced with some tough fis­cal times,” the prime min­is­ter said, “we now have to de­cide whether we are ca­pa­ble of host­ing the games or not.” He went on to say that the mat­ter should be put be­fore the public. If only the same could be said of all gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions.

High on the agenda when 29 del­e­gates from 21 mem­ber ter­ri­to­ries of the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion (CGF) ar­rived in Saint Lu­cia over the week­end for a joint meet­ing of the Caribbean and Amer­i­cas re­gion, was Saint Lu­cia’s abil­ity or in­abil­ity to host the 2017 Com­mon­wealth Youth Games.

The del­e­ga­tion that ar­rived here on Fri­day 22nd May at­tended a meet­ing at Coco Palm Re­sort in Rod­ney Bay on Satur­day morn­ing. Dur­ing that ses­sion there were open­ing re­marks first by For­tuna Bel­rose, Pres­i­dent of the Saint Lu­cia Olympic Com­mit­tee, fol­lowed by Re­gional Vice Pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­cas, Yassin Ju­man; Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the CGF, David Grevem­berg; and Min­is­ter for Youth Devel­op­ment and Sports, Shawn Ed­ward.

Be­fore stat­ing gov­ern­ment’s po­si­tion when it comes to host­ing the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games, Min­is­ter Ed­ward por­trayed Saint Lu­cia not only as a wed­ding and hon­ey­moon des­ti­na­tion but also as a sports ori­ented na­tion stat­ing that in very re­cent times the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia has in­vested very heav­ily in the devel­op­ment of sport­ing in­fra­struc­ture. He said, “I was re­lieved when I walked in this morn­ing to see on the pro­gramme we would be tour­ing ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties, as well as the site for per­haps one of the big­gest cap­i­tal in­vest­ments in sport in­fra­struc­ture for the last 10 years and that is the site at Beause­jour where we plan on con­struct­ing an Olympic size aquatic cen­tre.”

That par­tic­u­lar project is be­ing funded by the Tai­wanese.

Hav­ing said that, one would think gov­ern­ment would stamp the seal of ap­proval on Saint Lu­cia host­ing the 2017 Com­mon­wealth Youth Games. That was not the case! Ed­ward was merely cush­ion­ing the blow be­fore stat­ing what many Saint Lu­cians al­ready knew.

“Every­body in here knows that Saint Lu­cia was awarded the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games some years ago,” said the min­is­ter. “To­day we are in a sit­u­a­tion where there is much dis­cus­sion at the na­tional level in terms of whether Saint Lu­cia is in a po­si­tion to ac­tu­ally carry through and make good on the prom­ise to the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion that we will be able to host the games.”

The min­is­ter pointed out that he had met with Grevem­berg and given him an in­sight as to what the mind­set is within the sports fra­ter­nity with re­gard to our abil­ity to host the games in 2017. He also men­tioned that ear­lier Grevem­berg had the op­por­tu­nity to meet the Gover­nor Gen­eral and Act­ing Prime Min­is­ter, Phillip J Pierre who also gave their per­spec­tive on Saint Lu­cia host­ing the games and the chal­lenges that we face.

Min­is­ter Ed­ward him­self tried bring­ing the truth to light when it came to Saint Lu­cia host­ing the games: “Let me say here, in all the sin­cer­ity that I can muster, that there are se­ri­ous fis­cal and fi­nan­cial chal­lenges that con­front our coun­try. That notwith­stand­ing, the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia has not said no to host­ing the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games in 2017. What we have done as a col­lec­tive cabi­net, is that we have placed the mat­ter in the public domain for dis­cus­sion for sug­ges­tions.”

He went on to say: “I am hop­ing that dis­cus­sion will also hap­pen at this level. This is a panel of very dis­tin­guished sports ad­min­is­tra­tors in the Com­mon­wealth and of course the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia is open to ideas and sug­ges­tions, as we move for­ward in an at­tempt to make a de­ter­mi­na­tion as it re­lates to whether we are able to or we can host the games.”

Dur­ing a ques­tion and an­swer ses­sion, I asked Grevem­berg whether he was en­cour­aged or dis­cour­aged fol­low­ing re­marks from the Min­is­ter for Youth Devel­op­ment and Sports. He replied: “I am en­cour­aged by the re­spon­si­bil­ity the gov­ern­ment has taken in terms of mak­ing sure th­ese games are ab­so­lutely right for Saint Lu­cia, as well as the Com­mon­wealth Sports Move­ment. Th­ese games are only de­liv­ered by part­ner­ship, whether it’s the Com­mon­wealth Games proper or the Com­mon­wealth Youth Games, so it is ab­so­lutely crit­i­cal that both peo­ple and gov­ern­ments and, of course, all the part­ners that are sup­port­ing such games are pulling be­hind this ven­ture or jour­ney.”

He went on to say: “I re­spect ab­so­lutely the ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances that the min­is­ter dis­cussed. We look for­ward to work­ing very closely with the Saint Lu­cia Com­mon­wealth Games As­so­ci­a­tion and the Saint Lu­cian gov­ern­ment, to look at the fea­si­bil­ity and the over­all pro­gramme of the youth games and to en­sure it can be fea­si­ble for Saint Lu­cia to host.”

While in Saint Lu­cia the del­e­gates had site vis­its to sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties that in­cluded the Beause­jour Cricket Ground, Na­tional Ten­nis Cen­tre, site for the Na­tional Aquatic Cen­tre, Beause­jour In­door Fa­cil­ity and the Ge­orge Od­lum Sta­dium which is still be­ing used as a tem­po­rary hos­pi­tal.

It is widely known that the Ge­orge Od­lum Sta­dium is in de­plorable con­di­tion and would need mil­lions to bring it up to scratch. It has also been re­ported that the sta­dium would need to be ready by 2016 to host at least one in­ter­na­tional meet ahead of the 2017 games, which seems very un­re­al­is­tic at this time.

The clock is tick­ing for Saint Lu­cia and there is yet no word on how public con­sul­ta­tion on the mat­ter will take place.

Min­is­ter for Youth Devel­op­ment and Sports, Shawn Ed­ward (left) with Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion, David Grevem­berg.

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