Chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for the Grenada Invitational, Dexter Mitchell has reacted angrily to questions posed to him Monday on reports that state-owned bodies were being influenced by the Keith Mitchell-led government to foot some of the bills for Saturday’s event at the National Stadium at Queen’s Park.
Mitchell refused to entertain questions posed by THE NEW TODAY on whether the inaugural Grenada Invitational can be categorized as a private event or one in which taxpayers money are being used through state-owned enterprises.
The LOC Chairman went totally on the defense when asked questions about the funding.
There are unconfirmed reports that approximately $2 million is being footed by government not through the Treasury but through state bodies like the Grenada National Lottery Authority (GNLA).
When asked whether the NNP administration is one of the major sponsors for the event, Mitchell replied: “Why is this the only thing you are interested in? There are other stories to focus on…like the renaming of the stadium”.
This newspaper informed him that it was also doing other stories and the LOC Chief chipped in “…you didn’t get it from me.”
When pressed further to confirm or deny the question about government’s direct or indirect involvement in securing some of the funding for the Grenada Invitational, Mitchell stated over the phone in a very angry tone: “I will not even acknowledge that you called me.”
The response from THE NEW TODAY was, “All I am asking is for you to confirm or deny” the reports about the funds from state bodies.
“My statement remains the same, the Grenada Invitational is a private event”, said an annoyed Mitchell who then choose to hang up the phone.
Information reaching this newspaper indicates that the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) is financing the cost of the plane tickets for the incoming athletes and their coaches.
THE NEW TODAY was unable to ascertain the cost of tickets but it is understood that there will be a waiver of Value Added Tax (VAT) on those tickets from the Ministry of Finance.
There are also reports that the bill to house the athletes and their delegations at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort will cost approximately EC $400,000.
In addition, most of the prize monies for the winning athletes will be funded by state bodies in the range of US$700,000.00.
A well-placed source told this newspaper that the Broadcast rights for the Grenada Invitational was given to ESPN at a fee of EC$250,000.00.
It is costing approximately EC$40,000 a day to use the National Athletic Stadium with its equipment but THE NEW TODAY understands that the invitational will be held at no cost to the local organisers.
Bahamian Olympian, Chris Browne is reportedly being paid US$65,000 from funds allegedly secured from GNLA for recruiting the top international athletes for tomorrow’s athletic meet.
The games have attracted star athletes as Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica, Kirani James of Grenada, Kim Collins of St. Kitts and LeShawn Merritt and Justin Gatlin of the United States.