|More than 40 countries confirmed for world relays|
Guardian Sports Reporter
Published: Nov 07, 2013
With the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relay Championships on the horizon for 2014 here in The Bahamas, it has been confirmed that the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino will be the venue of the head office of the international governing body for athletics.
One of the reasons the executives in the IAAF selected the hotel, located in the western district of New Providence, is because of its close proximity to the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. According to secretary general in the IAAF Essar Gabriel, other hotels on the island will benefit from the staging of the event as well, as more than 40 countries, inclusive of 800-plus athletes and coaches have confirmed participation so far.
Gabriel said: “We approved a choice of hotels that are practical. The Sheraton will be [used as] the IAAF hotel. We are really happy with that choice. It is close to the stadium, and ample space is there so our office will be there also. There are other hotels so the rest of the industry will benefit from this event, not only during the event but after as well, keeping in line with the strategy that the government explained to us, making this place a sporting destination for the future.”
Gabriel said the United States of America (USA) and Jamaica were the first countries to confirm participation. He noted that a number of athletes will be coming from the European area, and that the figures as well as confirmations will be known closer to the hosting of the event. The inaugural relays, which will be held May 24-25 at the national stadium, follows two major events and sits on one of the biggest holiday weekends in the USA, Memorial Day weekend. The week before the relays is held, the 2nd Annual Chris Brown Bahamas Invitational will take place here at home. Ahead of that, the prestigious Penn Relays will run at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“We will be confirming those numbers [as the time comes], but at least 40 countries will be coming over,” said Gabriel. “The athletes were up to about 800-plus and accompanying them will be the team officials, and that is another 300 or 400 persons.
“For media, this is an inaugural event, a new event, so we will be addressing and opening information to the sporting media worldwide, and see the response that we are going to get. Given that this the inaugural world relays and it is in the month of May, it should have a very good pick-up, plus it is The Bahamas. Needless to say, that should be an additional plus there.”
Discussions about ticketing have started already, basing the estimation on projected numbers. Gabriel and other executives in the IAAF are advising the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA) as well as the local organizing committee (LOC) on how best to go about the distribution of tickets.
“In terms of ticketing, the larger circle should be the Caribbean and the United States, and the focus is on the pick-up in The Bahamas to fill the stadium. By enlarging the circle to the Caribbean and the United States, as the Penn Relays are a couple of days ahead, knowing that the tradition of track and field and relays are very strong, the destination Bahamas could be really enhanced.”
The Bahamas will host the IAAF World Relays again in 2015.