Submitted to the Honourable Michael Coteau, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sports of Canada by the Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development and Renewable Energy of Antigua and Barbuda.
Canada has enjoyed noteworthy success in Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Its athletes have brought pride to the Canadian people and given recognition to Canada in the international community. They have also been role models to young people in an increasingly culturally-diverse Canadian society, uniting them under a single Canadian flag.
The better that Canadians perform in Commonwealth and international sports events, the more they contribute to the sense of oneness and pride in Canada, and in encouraging young people to use their energies in productive ways.
In the 7-member states of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), there is an abundance of naturally talented athletes for track and field events, but they lack proper facilities for training. They are also not exposed to competition with more experienced athletes from other countries. OECS countries have produced a small number of Gold Medal winners in limited fields.
Antigua as a training location for a training facility
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda proposes that the Government of Canada (in a joined-up approach by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Sports) could consider establishing a training facility on Antigua for track and field events that would be utilised by Canadian athletes, particularly in the winter months, and also by athletes from all 7 OECS countries.
Such a facility, built by Canada, would be a tangible contribution to sports development in the Eastern Caribbean; one that would be easily recognisable by all the people and appreciated by the youth. It would be an enduring symbol to the friendship of Canada and the members of the OECS. OECS athletes would at last have a facility that would enable them to train properly for Commonwealth and Olympic events.
The facility would be available to Canadians for training in the winter months. It could be a very cost-effective way for Canada to provide such facilities for its athletes.
In addition to their training, Canadian athletes would also be able to engage in competitions with athletes from the OECS region, adding a cutting edge dimension to their training.
Indeed, it may even be possible to organise an annual Hemispheric Commonwealth Games in which Canada and all Commonwealth Caribbean countries including the Bahamas, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago could participate.
The venue for such an annual Hemispheric Commonwealth Games could alternate between the facility in Antigua in the Winter one year, and Canada in the Summer the following year. It would have an additional benefit of bringing Canadian tourists as spectators to Antigua in the Winter, and Caribbean-wide tourists as spectators to Canada in the Summer.
Details to be worked-out
An undertaking of this kind would require many details to be worked out; among them:
Cost of establishing the facility
Cost of annual maintenance
Source of annual maintenance costs
Management of the facility
If the idea is accepted in principle, these details could be worked out by experts from Canada in consultation with local persons in Antigua.
This concept paper is very preliminary and designed to solicit any interest that Canada might have in the project which should be seen not only as a contribution to training and honing the skills of its athletes, but also as tangible expression of Canada's friendship with, and support for, the smaller countries of the Caribbean who have been Canada's long term ally in the international community.
OECS countries are: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat