World relays dropped by The Bahamas in 2019
One of the most prestigious and high-profile sporting events to ever come to these shores has been removed from the government’s agenda.
The IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2019 has been cancelled, and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is left scrambling to find a host just 10 months prior to competition date. The 2019 event was set for late April/early May, once again at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, in New Providence, The Bahamas. It was set to be the fourth consecutive world relays in The Bahamas.
Attempts were made to reach new Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle for comment, but that proved fruitless. However, according to reports, the Government of The Bahamas was not prepared to fit the $5 million bill that came along with the hosting of the meet. As for the first three editions – 2014, 2015 and 2017 – it’s unknown how much total funds were spent, how much was made, if any, and how the funds were spent and disbursed. None of the previous three financial reports have ever been released to the press.
Without going into detail, IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2017 Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rosamunde Carey confirmed that the 2019 event has been cancelled. She said that the government’s decision to cancel has been passed on to the IAAF, which will convene in short order to discuss a way forward.
The 2019 World Relays were set to be a qualifying event for the 2019 IAAF World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
“It’s a situation now where we are 10 months out of the world relays, and the IAAF has to now find a host country that will be willing to step forward,” said Carey yesterday. “The main concern here is the time and the reputational damage it could cause to this country. We’re trying to do everything that we can to mitigate that, but at the end of the day, this is a serious blow to our reputation as a host country. The Bahamas has received powerful global support in the hosting of the world relays since its inception. We would have worked very hard to satisfy the requirements of the IAAF and ensure that the world relays become a part of the World Athletic Series. I couldn’t say if it would ever return given the way it was handled. To say 10 months out that you are no longer able to do so is a hard pill to swallow. Hopefully, it can be rectified and the host nation reputation of The Bahamas won’t be damaged.”
The IAAF World Relays is one of the few global sporting events to ever come to The Bahamas, and along with the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Beach Soccer World Cup, are the two most high-profile sporting events to be hosted here. Additionally, the world relays are one of the most popular competitions in athletics, and arguably the fastest-growing event on the global athletics calendar. Finding a host country might not be that difficult for the IAAF, seeing that a number of countries have expressed interest in the past. However, the time frame is paramount. The next event was set to be held in less than a year’s time.
The first three editions have caught on globally. Hundreds of athletes from around the world come to The Bahamas as part of their national teams to compete in the relay races. It was originally intended as an annual event, but it was later decided to have it every odd year, the same year as the IAAF World Championships.
In the first edition, in 2014, the competition format included the men and women’s 4×100 meters (m) relay, the men and women’s 4x200m relay, the men and women’s 4x400m relay, the men and women’s 4x800m relay and the men and women’s 4x1500m relay. The 4x1500m relays were replaced by the distance medley relays for the second edition in 2015; and in 2017, the mixed 4x400m relay replaced the distance medley events.
At the last world relays in 2017, BTC came on board as the title sponsor, and corporate Bahamas showed tremendous support just like it did for the first two stagings of the event.
The United States has won the ‘Golden Baton’, given to the overall winner of each meet, at all three editions of the world relays.
The Bahamas sits in fourth place overall in the medal standings after the first three world relays, behind the United States, Jamaica and Kenya.