Ja eyes World Under-20 - The island is open for business, says Grange
After successfully staging the 2002 IAAF World Junior Championships, Jamaica may again welcome the world in two years' time, having officially expressed an interest in hosting the IAAF World Under-20 Championships in 2020.
According to information reaching The Gleaner from sources close to the situation, Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange has already held discussions with top-level IAAF officials about the country playing host to the premier age-group track and field championships on the planet.
When contacted yesterday, Grange neither confirmed or denied the reports, but noted the country's determination to present itself as a destination for major international sporting events and highlighted plans; with this in mind, to improve local sporting facilities.
"I have been making the point in my meetings with ministers of sports and the leaders of international sporting organisations, that Jamaica is open for business. It is an ambition of this administration to make Jamaica a venue for international sports - for competition and for hosting meetings of international sports federations. We believe there are significant social and economic benefits to be gained from establishing Jamaica as the place of choice to play, watch, and discuss sports," Grange said.
With plans afoot to redevelop the National Stadium, the minister pointed to the urgent need to improve the island's sporting infrastructure and strengthen the country's capabilities of hosting these events.
"We are also moving to improve our infrastructure, to bring them to international standards, to allow us to host major sports events. This includes a three- to five-year development plan for the National Stadium and the Trelawny Stadium. In the early phases of the development, we will be addressing the training track at the Stadium East and putting in additional seating at the National Stadium.
The Gleaner understands that Jamaica's interest was well-received in the sport's upper echelon, but that other nations have also expressed an interest in staging the event in 2020.
Meanwhile, president of the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA), Dr Warren Blake, underlined the importance of the country hosting an event like the IAAF World Under-20 Championships.
"It would be very important to cement our place as a track and field powerhouse, to show that we cannot only compete well, but that we can also host these types of events at the highest level," Blake told The Gleaner yesterday.
"We have expressed to the Government that we have a wish to host these events that aren't too long - like the World Under-20 Championships - we have expressed that desire to have it staged here again," Blake added.
The IAAF World Junior Championships, first held in 1986 in Athens, was replaced by the IAAF World Under-20 Championships and is contested by athletes aged 19 years old or younger.
This year's competition will be held in Tampere, Finland, from July 10 to 15.