Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Economic Affairs, Planning & Social Security, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony has officially announced that Saint Lucia will not be hosting the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2017.
The announcement was made via a recorded video message to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). The CGF met in Auckland, New Zealand, on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.
In 2011, the Government of Saint Lucia pledged to support the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee and Saint Lucia Commonwealth Games Association in its bid to host the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, the sixth edition of the multi-sport meet for athletes under the age of 18.
At that time, as then Leader Of The Opposition, Dr. Anthony pledged his support for the decision back the bid for the 2017 Games, even though he had expressed reservations about the cost.
Since then, however, the Prime Minister pointed out that ongoing works at the main hospital in the south of the island have occasioned an extended stay at the nation’s principal athletics venue, which will therefore be unavailable for 2017.
Said Dr. Anthony,
“My Government assumed office in late November 2011, and we remained hopeful that we would be able to identify a source of funds to finance the Games that would not involve increasing our National Debt or burdening the taxpayers of Saint Lucia.
“One of our biggest challenges was the necessity to use our National Stadium as a temporary hospital, following a fire in 2009 that destroyed the St. Jude Hospital in the south of the island. Unavoidable adjustments in the design of the new hospital have delayed its completion, which is now expected to be in late 2016. The cost to rehabilitate the National Stadium is now estimated at EC$15 million, and the works cannot be completed in time for the Games in 2017.”
During his 2015/2016 Budget Statement in May 2015, the Prime Minister questioned whether Saint Lucia could afford to host the Games, in the absence of a definitive financial plan. At the time, he called on members of Parliament, and the general public, “to share their views on this matter, prior to the Government making a final decision.”
Since then, the Government of Saint Lucia has explored the possibility of jointly hosting the games with St. Kitts and Nevis, but there has been no conclusion on that front. With the cost of hosting the Games uncertain, the Government of Saint Lucia is therefore unable to provide the unconditional financial guarantees required by the CGF.
Said Dr. Anthony,
“It may be possible for us to provide the necessary guarantees at a later date, but we cannot expect the CGF to delay a decision on the joint hosting of the 2017 CYG at this late stage. We have therefore informed the Saint Lucia CGA and the Local Organizing Committee, that we have no other choice but to withdraw our offer to host the CYG in 2017, and to express our sincere apology for any inconvenience and disappointment that this decision will cause.
“We remain, as a country, committed to the ideals of the Commonwealth, and the value of the Commonwealth Youth Games, and we will find ways of providing other avenues of support and assistance to the young people of Saint Lucia to make up for this missed opportunity. I thank you for your patience and understanding, and wish you success in your General Assembly and at the 2015 CYG to be held in Samoa.”
The Sports Programme for the 2017 Games was intended to include seven disciplines: Athletics, Beach Volleyball, Twenty20 Cricket, Cycling, Netball, Swimming and Tennis. CYG 2017 is expected to attract 1000 athletes and 250 officials.