Big bucks for Rio’s riches
Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, minister of culture, gender affairs, entertainment & sport, revealed that the Government will spend over $82 million to honour their Olympic and Parlympic stars this Heroes weekend for their rich medal returns from the Summer Games.
The celebrations will run from October 14-16.
"The celebration is costing, altogether when totalled up, the amount for the cash award (to the delegation) is Jamaican $42 million, and the remainder in cash and kind would be another $40 million in cash and kind (to stage the three-day event)," Grange told The Gleaner.
According to Grange, the hard work and exploits of Jamaican athletes at the Olympics and Parlympics in Rio, Brazil, could not go down without a national celebration.
"A special planning committee was convened to discuss how best to demonstrate, in tangible ways, our gratitude to our athletes and their management team. Whatever we do, ladies and gentlemen, we acknowledge that there can be no monetary award that is adequate to demonstrate our appreciation of the achievements of our champions," she explained.
Grange was speaking during the launch of what was titled 'A Programme of celebration for Rio Olympians and Paralympians', which was held at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston yesterday.
Jamaica's 63-member Olympic team finished 16th overall and third in the track and field athletics category behind Kenya and the United States of America.
The nation's Olympic heroes returned 11 medals: six gold, two silver and three bronze, while a three-member Paralympic team represented Jamaica at the Games in the same country.
Grange explained that the sporting heroes will be celebrated and rewarded, in keeping with the existing policy, despite the country's limited resources.
"We hope that this, in some way, will give credence to our gratitude, so for the awards, we looked at other countries and we tried our best within our limited resources to provide the monetary reward in keeping with the existing policy," Grange pointed out.
According to the sport minister, it is value for money and "not just having a big party".
There will be an improvement in prize monies for athletes this year, adding the 2012 London Olympics figure.
The reward system for athletes will be as follows; for a gold medal, athletes will receive US$10,000, US$7,500 for silver and US$5,000 for bronze.
For relay gold medals the equivalent of US$6,000 will be shared by all six squad members, and for relay silver, the amount to be shared is US$4,000. Relay bronze medal squad members will split US$3,500.
Also, finalists who did not medal will receive US$3,500 and non-finalists will get US$2,500.
Grange said they did not "want to leave anyone out, so managers and the officials will get a touch, and they will, each get the equivalent of US$1,000".
The same pay structure applies to Paralympians.
Meanwhile, 17 athletes will be flown in from overseas for the three days of celebrations.
The athletes will be the guests of honour at a sports gala and awards ceremony to be held at the National Indoor Sports Centre on Saturday.
Prior to that, on Friday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness will host a reception on the lawns of Jamaica House in their honour.
On Sunday, Jamaica National will host a 5K Run/Walk fundraiser for charities in western Jamaica, sponsored by the JN Group and supported by the Usain Bolt Foundation, in Falmouth, Trelawny, as part of the festivities.
It will follow with a western Jamaica reception at 7 p.m. at the Braco Melia Hotel, co-hosted by the ministries of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport, and Tourism.