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IAAF forum in The Bahamas is a huge sports endorsement

Sports Scope

Published: Sep 11, 2013

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Undoubtedly, the International Association of Athletic Federations’ (IAAF) forum on Monday past, to officially unveil the structure for the inaugural World Relays next year, was an element of huge proportions.

The Bahamas will get considerable mileage from hosting the first IAAF World Relays and also the event for the following year. All who played a role in the delivery of such a fantastic product to Bahamian soil are to be applauded. The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) is in place and Prime Minister Perry Christie has given his directive for those with portfolios to justify the IAAF’s confidence in The Bahamas.

His endorsement of those selected for various responsibilities, obviously comes with the expectation that the collective job done would be such that every Bahamian will feel proud. The people of The Bahamas understandably will have an ongoing interest in the process. By the time the 2015 version of the world relays is over, taxpayers are likely to have digested a total advance of Treasury funds of around $12 million. I’ve been informed that practical budgets have been put in place for each of the two years, $5 million per.

Unless some financial miracle occurs, it figures that there will be the usual over-run of funding. I believe the overage will be at least $1 million each year. That’s not a bother for me, because if marketed appropriately, other than the exposure the country gets, the upfront money should be almost doubled at the end of the day.

I’ve noticed that the Ministry of Finance has a representative on the LOC. He (Simon Wilson) has a tall order in front of him. With so much money available, hands will be reaching from everywhere with requirements. Wilson will have to be on guard 24/7, not necessarily on the lookout for any with ulterior motives, but simply to ensure that the money is spent wisely in every case.

This is a national effort and it requires scrutiny of the highest order. I recall the 1976 Montreal Olympics for many reasons. One in particular, was the tragic financial situation the city of Montreal found itself in following the games. Prior to the Olympics, Mayor Jean Drapeau had reportedly bragged that it was more possible for a man to have a baby than for the games to have a deficit.

Well, Montreal was paying back as a result of the financial burden of the games for some 30 years. To boot, with the exception of the Montreal Expo in 2005, the stadium has had no consistent tenant. We have to be very careful. The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium could end up being just like the Montreal Olympic Stadium, one great financial disaster.

So while, I acknowledge the significance of the “moment in time” this past Monday when the IAAF cemented the endorsement for the two grand track competitions, the suggestion is for the taxpayers’ funds to be handled with extreme care.

It’s now time to work! This is a great opportunity for success. My view is that once you consider the near 800 athletes who will be competing, support personnel, IAAF representatives, plus officials and dignitaries, each event will have a direct result of 2000-plus visitors. The events will be the short sprint relays (100 and 200 meters); the 4x400 meters relay, the 4x800 meters relay and the 4x1,500 meters relay. The 2014 event will take place May 24-25.

Some $1.4 million will be up for grabs in purses.

(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com)

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