Mangrove Cay and South Andros MP Picewell Forbes is calling out the government’s expenditure on travel for the fourth IAAF World Relays this past weekend, and also questioning the government’s overall commitment to sports.
In an official press release yesterday, Forbes , the shadow minister of sports and culture, said that the government of the day which “unceremoniously cancelled the IAAF track and field relays because they claimed it was too expensive, led a huge delegation on a jaunt to Japan to watch the same relays” that was last held in The Bahamas in 2017.
The fourth International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) World Relay Championships wrapped up on Sunday in Yokohama, Japan – the first one out of the country. The Bahamas had a dismal showing, finishing with just a finals appearance in the men’s 4×200 meters (m), but more of concern to Forbes was the cheering party from the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
He said that the reported delegation included the Minister Lanisha Rolle and her husband, the Director of Sports Timothy Munnings, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the ministry K. Darron Turnquest, IAAF Council Member Pauline Davis-Thompson, and the minister’s personal assistant Lisa Russell.
“In the absence of a clear and cogent development plan for sports and cultural development for the benefit of our youth and young athletes, the government’s actions come across as selfish, hypocritical and exploitative of the country’s athletes and a waste of scarce public financial resources, especially the VAT (value-added tax) money,” said Forbes. “Instead of exploiting athletes and wasting tax payers’ money, the government should articulate a comprehensive plan for the development of sports and culture for our youth and athletes where Bahamians can own and operate this new industry as a significant pillar of the Bahamian economy.”
Forbes went on to mention the proposed and incomplete sports academy with Moore’s Island in the Abacos as a base, that was started under the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). He also spoke to the upgrade and refurbishment of sporting facilities in the Family Islands, and the creation of a national sports plan.
“That would demonstrate some semblance of a commitment to our athletes and their athletic development,” said Forbes. “In stark contrast to the FNM, the PLP remains committed to transforming sports and culture into a significant pillar of the national economy, owned and operated by Bahamians. That is our pledge to our young athletes.”
The first three world relays were held in The Bahamas in 2014, 2015 and again in 2017. The Bahamas held the bid for 2019 and again in 2021, but the Free National Movement (FNM) Government decided that the $5 million price tag was too much, and consequently pulled the plug on the only global sporting event that temporarily had a home in The Bahamas.
This past weekend, at the first world relays held outside of The Bahamas, the men’s 4x400m relay team never stepped on the track as it was reported that 200-400 national record holder Steven Gardiner suffered a strained Achilles tendon injury, and there was insufficient time to bring in a replacement, and the men’s 4x200m relay team dropped the baton in the final.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting