Millions at stake in Grenada invitational

Bahamian Olympian, Chris Browne is reportedly getting US$65, 000.00 to help organise the inaugural Grenada Invitational Sports Meet on April 8th at the National Athletic stadium at Queen’s Park.

Well-placed sources told THE NEW TODAY newspaper that Brown’s fee is believed to be paid by a moneymaking statutory body on the island.

According to a source who asked not to be identified the money is not coming from government coffers through the Ministry of Finance because of financial constraints due to the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) with input from the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He said the track and field meet can be considered as an “expensive” enterprise and could cost the organisers some where in the region of EC$3 million to host the games.

He spoke of Grenada spending EC$1.8 million to host last year’s Carifta games at the stadium involving the region’s top junior athletes.

“That is what we had to pay to hold the Carifta games and a meet like the Grenada Invitational will cost much more in terms of putting the logistics in place”, he said.

The source pointed out that during the Carifta games, three athletes were allocated to one hotel room and the elite athletes contracted to take part in the Grenada event would not accept this.

He said the athletes will want to have their own hotel room and separate rooms for their support team comprising a coach and in some cases two physiotherapists.

This, he stressed would definitely add to the cost of the games.

In addition, he said the Grenada Invitational will have to be held on “accepted international” standards and that the prize money on offer for each race in the international category could be in the region of US$100, 000.00 each.

THE NEW TODAY understands that there will be 10 international events on the day’s programme to run off in two hours between 8.00 p.m and 10.00 p.m.

Some of the top athletes contracted to run in the Grenada Invitational are Americans Justin Gatlin, David Oliver, LaShawn Merritt and Ashley Spencer, along with Jamaicans Asafa Powell and Veronica Campbell-Brown, Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis, Phylicia George of Canada and Grenada’s track star, 400 metre runner Kirani James, and Michelle-Lee Ayee of Trinidad.

This newspaper was told that Kirani James cut his appearance fee down to US$30, 000.00 to run before his home crowd while the other top athletes might each be getting between US$50 and $75, 000.00 to run in Grenada.

There are also reports that some of the Statutory bodies have been purchasing VIP tickets at a cost of EC$400. 00 each for its Board of Directors.

The source cited the case of one Board member who went ahead and purchased two tickets at $800.00 for both he and his wife to attend the Invitational games.

“I understand that all the VIP tickets have been sold out and a man who really wants to go in the VIP is offering to buy one of the tickets for $600. 00 because the board member is getting one free ticket from the statutory body”, he said.

THE NEW TODAY was told that the Grenada Invitational has left a bitter taste in the mouth of the local athletic association and the organisers of next month’s one-day event.

Grenada will be going into an athletic hype beginning next week with the staging of the annual National Primary Schools Sports Meet.

The event to be competed among the Parishes takes place at the Grenada Athletic stadium on March 30th.

Following the National Primary School Sports Meet, preparations move into high gear for the annual Intercollegiate Athletic Sports Meeting sponsored by Scotiabank and featuring the secondary schools, which have already had their individual sports meet for the season.

This year the games are being staged over a three-day period beginning on April 3rd and runs onto April 5th.

The athletic climate heats up during that week with the inaugural Grenada Invitational Sports Meet on April 8th.

The revived Whitsuntide Games are next in line on June 3rd and 4th followed by the Grenada Athletics Association National Championship on June 17th and 18th.

This past weekend the country staged the Ariza Credit Union Junior Championships, which was won by St. David’s Track Blazers with 198 points.

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