No state funds have been jeopardised due to the last-minute cancellation of the Trinidad and Tobago Grand Games (TTGG).
So says Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT ) acting chief executive officer, Adrian Raymond, who distanced himself from the national sporting scandal.
On Wednesday, TT Grand Games executive member Regina John, confirmed the plug has been pulled on what was being dubbed this country’s biggest international meet since the Neal and Massy Classic back in 1984.
Previously boasting a star-studded line-up of some of TT ’s best track and field stars competing alongside a healthy contingent of famed international athletes for the first time on home soil, the Games’ cancellation has wreaked havoc on athletes’ preparation for the dawning Olympic Games.
Speaking to Raymond on this matter yesterday, he revealed that SporTT did not invest or sponsor any part of the Grand Games due to financial burdens and the close proximity of the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“We would have given support in terms of the meet management systems such as the electronic timing system, but we do that for all the events at the Stadium,” said Raymond.
“Other than that, no money was put into the Trinidad and Tobago Grand Games.
None of the state’s money was put into this event. We (SporTT ) are down $33 million, this year over last year, and Olympics is on the horizon so things are tight.
It seems that this was their first time hosting an event of this calibre.” In an interview on Wednesday, John revealed that organisers were pressed for a 3pm deadline that day to make a final decision on the Games. She stated that, “many changes that took place between last week Monday and this week, we had a lot of different commitments in different places where we had our finances in different locations and different things to organise. For example, appearance fees and prize money in US currency. As of today, the time has caught up with us where we noticed that we were not able to put everything in line. And as a result we had no choice but to cancel the track and field part of our evening.” However, several athletes and their coaching staff have been up in arms due to the last minute cancellation. Four-time Olympic medallist, Ato Boldon, whose athletic protégé Khalifa St Fort was scheduled to participate in the one-day meet this weekend, expressed displeasure with the unprofessionalism surrounding the TT GG.
In an online video post, the former national sprinter slammed organisers with athletes now forced to reschedule their itinerary this weekend.
“After all of this Grand Games hype, and all the ads, and all the negotiations back and forth. So many people were planning their season because it’s May and a critical month. This is our fault.
As long as we have these amateurs who are expected to deliver professional results, it will always happen. This is absolutely ridiculous,” said a clearly upset Boldon.
Sport Minister Darryl Smith, also lamented the Grand Games scrapping but said it needed better planning.
Additionally, the National Association of Athletics Administrations (NAAA) also distanced themselves from the TT GG, and blasted organisers for the poor management.
“NAAATT was involved in neither the planning nor the administration of the Games. We have not been officially informed of the cancellation of the event nor of the reasons leading to its cancellation. However, based on what is currently in the public domain, it would appear that, at a minimum, a proper explanation is required from the Meet Organisers.
As much as one may wish to sympathise with them for the challenges they encountered and the unfortunate turn of events, there is no doubt that the last minute cancellation has adversely affected the athletes who were expecting to participate and the fans that were looking forward to the event.
It must also be recognised that significant damage has been done to the sport of athletics and to our country’s brand given the title of the event, the extensive promotions done and the poor handling of the cancellation.” According to former national sprinter, Alvin Daniel, the idea of hosting such a grand meet was good, but believes funding may have been their biggest issue.
“Most time events get cancelled is because of funding,” he said.
“Our athletes, who represent us proudly abroad, have never gotten a real opportunity to showcase their talent in front of our crowd and against a high calibre of athletes locally.
It’s high time though, whether the government wants to keep it because they might have the resources to do so, we should have a big meet and bring down top athletes. We have the stadia.
If Jamaica, Barbados and other regional islands can do it, why can’t we? But, it didn’t work this time.
Hopefully next year, with better planning, an initiative like this can be pulled off.”