Wednesday 13th February, 2008


Crawford, Chapman key men but ... Hosting Commonwealth Games no mean task

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It must have been some twenty years ago that the then Olympic president, the late Knolly Henderson and general secretary Alex Chapman brought the idea of hosting the Commonwealth games in T&T.

No doubt, the fact that Jamaica was able to host the British Empire games in the sixties encouraged the NOC to give the matter serious thought.

With my absolute shortage of the experience in analyzing the project thoroughly, I saw it as a great idea and one which Knolly and Alex will have given indepth study.

Needless to say, it never materialized, maybe for a number of good reasons stemming from inadequate infrastructure, lack of competent human resources, lack of Government financing, among numerous other aspects of shortcomings.

Knolly has passed and gone, leaving us short of his valuable knowledge and experience, but Alex is still very much with us and must be the pillar on which this decision should be considered.

Whatever reasons were put forward in the initial attempt, should be revisited and viewed in a manner in which present circumstances may have changed the outlook of hosting such a prestigious event.

It will be nice to see this country shine among the top bracket of countries who fight tooth and nail for events of this magnitude.

Having been to three Commonwealth games myself, it was easy to recognize the mammoth task that is ahead almost in every aspect of our objective.

I suppose that the question of facilities must be on the front burners in the wishlist, especially with some of the extraordinary sporting disciplines which require facilities somewhat foreign to our people.

A relevant aspect of the decision making process will lay square on the financing of this huge project, not only from the erecting of new facilities, but with the balancing of income and expenditure in the final analysis.

Some of us will have witnessed the attendance patterns of crowds who attend the popular events and reveal to the analysts the shortage of crowd support for some of the less exciting sports.

It is fair to say that we are very much a sport loving public mainly for the sports that are popular within our own society, and unfortunately, football and cricket, both of which are not considered bread and butter events in the Commonwealth games, are among the more popular in our country.

Track and Field, Cycling, Swimming, Boxing, Rifle Shooting, may invite some level of crowd participation, but there are quite a few sporting events which fans would easily ignore.

This brings us to the next question. When these events are taking place concurrently in different parts of the country, could anyone imagine the trafficular confusion in the cities across the island.

This is simply because we do not have the adequate roads in order to accommodate the movement of so many people at a time. Then of course, we may wish to consider whether or not this country has a population which can provide sufficient spectator support to the extent that the organizers would hope for.

I distinctly recall having to travel distances within the city of Edmonton, Canada, to witness track and field events, and literally hustle to other venues for Swimming and then Cycling, all within three hours and over sixty odd miles to cover.

Having brought these issues to the fore, the impression is not to dampen the efforts of the Olympic committee, but to alert them towards the reality of the task ahead.

I expect that the NOC will seek the advice of people like Alex Chapman and Hasely Crawford, both of whom have attended a number of Commonwealth games, plus the national associations and government agencies, whose commitments must be positive and stable.

The commitment to hosting Games of this magnitude must be definitive from as far back as the date of the announcing the venue.

Knowing that we are not by nature good long term planners, it would be interesting to see whether or not the government gives its thumbs up for the event.

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