On the heels of another Bahamian excelling in sports, making it to the highest level of baseball globally, Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Romell Knowles is again calling for the relevant authority in the country to put the necessary focus behind sports. He’s asking the government of The Bahamas to further subsidize sports in the country, in tune with regional and international standards and to accommodate the rapid development of sports in the country.
On Sunday, Bahamian professional baseball player Jasrado “Jazz” Chisholm completed his first weekend in the majors. He started for the Miami Marlins in their 5-4 extra innings loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, going 1-for-4 at the plate.
Knowles said they are extremely proud of Chisholm and congratulate the governing body for baseball in the country, the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA), for facilitating another young Bahamian through the pipelines of Major League Baseball (MLB). Chisholm became the seventh Bahamian to play in the big leagues.
“It’s high time sports be given the financial leverage it so deserves,” said Knowles. “It’s ironic there seems to be no appreciation for the sacrifices administrators, coaches and athletes make on a daily basis in their particular sport on behalf of country. I hope soon and very soon sports will not be an afterthought; and those in authority will appreciate that our sporting accomplishments are more than a feel good emotional moment.”
Knowles has lashed out on a number occasions following the passing of the latest national budget in June. Sports in the country received more than a $5 million reduction, and subvention to elite athletes was cut by almost $300,000. Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Lanisha Rolle stated in the House of Assembly that given the changing circumstances, more specifically the effects of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the limited financial resources within the country, a portion of the ministry’s funds had to be reallocated.
Be that as it may, Knowles is continuing to appeal on behalf of sports in the country and on behalf of Bahamian athletes.
“We have had the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Beach Soccer World Championship, basketball regional and world qualifiers, the Commonwealth Youth Games was the largest sporting event in The Bahamas in 40 years. Yet, we have been dealing with one disappointment after another,” said Knowles. “The cancelation of the world relays was a huge mistake. Grants to national federations need to be restored to the 2009 amounts where designated federations received grants of eighty and forty thousand dollars. The reduction in subvention to our elite athletes is ill-advised and really a hard pill for them to swallow in an extended Olympic period.”
The government has stated that the cancelation of the hosting of the World Athletics World Relays was due in part to the huge price tag that came along with it. The hosting of the event was said to cost in excess of five million dollars. Grants to national federations have been reduced significantly and funding for a number of sports programs and initiatives have been reduced. Probably, the most significant reduction for sports in the current fiscal period is that of subvention to elite athletes, and it comes as athletes are training in preparation for the Summer Olympics which is now set for July 23 to August 8,2021, still in Tokyo, Japan.
Knowles is calling for a meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, Minister Rolle or a representative of the government, to see how best a solution could be worked out so that Bahamian athletes could continue to prepare for the Olympics while not having to worry about reduction in their subvention allocations. He said it is imperative that athletes are compensated to maintain certain fitness levels, pay coaches and pay for supplements and attend training camps, among others. The qualifying period for athletics for the Olympics has been suspended but resumes on December 1.