The recent news that the Government of The Bahamas has cancelled the IAAF World Relays Bahamas 2019 was met with much dismay and disappointment by several Bahamians and sports enthusiasts. This announcement sent shock waves across the nation and the global sports community with just 10 months before the event was scheduled to take place.
As Bahamians sought to obtain more details on the rationale for the cancellation, it was reported that the country’s financial challenges is the motivation for the Government’s decision. This is despite increases in budget allocations to projects with unquantifiable benefits and the lack of transparency on government finances.
The public discourse regarding the economic benefits obtained from the previous three versions of this global event is noteworthy. We concur that cost-benefit analyses ought to be conducted for any project, event or initiative funded by taxpayers. In this instance, seeing that the Government has access to financial reports including expenditure and revenue on the previous three events, these reports should be released to the public. It would have been irresponsible for the Government to make the decision to cancel the event without the benefit of a detailed economic impact analysis.
It is common knowledge that the IAAF World Relays attracted world class athletes, their families and sport fans to our nation. It provided significant exposure for The Bahamas as a tourist destination while highlighting our culture, artists and athletes before a global audience. This level of exposure and goodwill cannot be easily quantified and should not be underestimated.
Bahamians are questioning the prudence of this decision with a view to ascertaining whether it was a wise one or a magnificent display of a lack of vision. Could the event have been successfully hosted by The Bahamas with collaboration with the private sector via Public Private Partnership and sponsorships? Did we explore opportunities for international and domestic businesses to defray some of the costs associated with this event? Is 10 months sufficient notice to the IAAF to find an alternative country to successfully host this event? Has the Government identified or negotiated a replacement event of similar caliber?
At this juncture in our nation’s history, we cannot afford a deficit of innovation, creativity and strategic planning. We must learn to do more with less and employ the brilliant minds of all Bahamians for the building of our country. The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium should be used as a magnet for world-class sporting events and to enhance our sports tourism product.
On behalf of the Bahamian people, the Democratic National Alliance wishes to express gratitude to the various individuals and sport ambassadors that worked tirelessly to bring the IAAF World Relays to The Bahamas and put our nation on the global sports calendar. This opportunity should not be squandered or taken for granted. We are hopeful that the Government’s decision will not negatively impact the reputation of The Bahamas or strain our relationship with the IAAF as well as the local and international sports community.
Arinthia S. Komolafe
Democratic National Alliance