Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Funding the big hurdle to Diamond League status for JII

Published:Saturday | March 18, 2017 | 3:00 AMShayne Fairman
Dr Warren Blake (left), president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association, chats with former Jamaica Olympic Association vice-president Don Anderson prior to the launch of the Jamaica International Invitational meet at the Spanish Court hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday.

Despite dominating global sprinting for close to a decade, Jamaica seems to have very little chance of hosting a Diamond League event in the very near future.

The country has one of the most coveted profiles in athletics, rivalling the mighty United States as the leading country in terms of medals picked up from athletics in recent Olympic Games and World Championships. Stars such as eight-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce, Elaine Thompson and Veronica Campbell Brown have put the country at the helm of world sprinting consistently.

Speaking at Wednesday's press launch of this year's Jamaica International Invitational (JII) meet, Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association boss, Dr Warren Blake, said he would like to see that event elevated to Diamond League status, but admitted that funding was a big challenge.

 

THE FINANCES

 

"The finances are really the main holdback to us moving to Diamond League status," Blake said.

Blake is chairman of the organising committee for the JII meet. He revealed that this year's staging could cost an estimated US$2 million (approximately J$256 million).

Staging a Diamond League meet would cost a great more, at least US$5 million (approximately J$640 million). Jamaica would only be considered for the pool of possible Diamond League meets in the future it meets all the criteria.

The event would be governed by the International Association of Athletics Federations, which mandate that a host be able to afford to finance the Diamond League for a period of 4-5 years. Potential hosts like Jamaica, through sponsors, would also need to prove it can bankroll athletes' prize money, which would ultimately increase over time.

"It comes down to the dollars and cents. We have shown that we can manage the organisation, but (the problem) is to put the money together and to have commitments over a number of years," Blake underlined.

"We should get there once we have the financial support and can, say, tie up a four-year contract. One of the things is to get a major sponsor who will be willing to put down that money for several years," he told The Gleaner.