Passing the baton - Jamaica still hoping to take World Relays from The Bahamas
Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake wants the nation to host next year's IAAF World Relays following reports that the government of The Bahamas, who hosted the event in the three years of its existence (2014, 2015, and 2017), voted against hosting again in 2019.
The Bahamas is believed to be giving up hosting privilege because of what is considered the high cost of running the event. It is reported that The Bahamas spent BSD$15 million (J$1.9 billion) to host in 2014. It then spent an estimated BSD$21 million (J$2.7 billion) last year.
Blake said that hosting the relays at the National Stadium could only be possible with the financial support of the government as significant upgrades would be needed to the facility.
"JAAA is willing to take it on, once we have the government's support," Blake told The Gleaner. "We made this position clear months ago, when we became aware that there may have been a vote against it. We are very interested in hosting the World Relays, it just depends on the financial backing of the government."
Senior Sports Reporter at The Bahamas Tribune, Brent Stubbs, described the decision by the country's government as a "difficult pill to swallow".
"Having this event cancelled came as a big shock," he told The Gleaner. "All things considered, we knew that there's a change in government. They've made some drastic cutbacks on various aspects of what we do here, and so there has been some indication that sports would be affected by some of the changes. The World Relays was one of those items on the agenda."
Stubbs said that the public had mixed reactions to the news as some persons are disappointed because the Games brought some of track and field's biggest stars to compete in the country, while others felt that it was costing the nation too much money.
However, he said that this decision will affect track and field, not just in The Bahamas, but across the Caribbean.
Key IAAF requirements for nations seeking to host the World Relays:
- Minimum 10,000-seat stadium with Class 1 IAAF Athletics Facility Certificate and eight-lane track.
- All technical and functional areas, including call room(s), mixed zone, post event area, photo-finish control room, video recording room, results management room, doping control station, technical information centre, rest area for combined events athletes, and seats for coaches and teams.
- Warm-up facility with a 400m track - minimum six lanes.
- One training venue (could also be the warm-up).
- Installation of event venue decoration, at least two state-of-the-art video screens and quality sound system at the main stadium.
- Ensuring the main stadium is equipped with reliable and modern communication network, infrastructure and services.
- Ensuring the venue is provided commercially clean.
- Securing rooms for athletes, officials, IAAF Family and media.
- Athletes and team officials: 1400 beds (300 single & 550 twin/double rooms).
- IAAF Family: 250 beds (150 single & 50 twin/double room).
- Media: 25 beds.
BROADCAST & MEDIA:
- Payment for the host broadcaster (to be appointed by the IAAF) to broadcast the entire event capped at US$350,000 (Ja$45 million).
- Provision of all broadcast and media facilities, equipment and services, including media and press centres, telecommunication and other communication facilities, accommodation and transportation, press conference facilities (including simultaneous translation) and accreditation services.
- Development and implementation of a security plan including security personnel to protect and safeguard the event site and security and protection for members of the IAAF Family.