Alphonso E Bridgewater, C.S.M.
President of the St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC)
In the name of the leadership, staff and partners of the St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC), I salute you all on this Olympic Day, probably among the most solemn, soul-searching and reflective on record.
Were all things normal, Olympic Day 2020 would have marked some 33 days before the original commencement of the Olympic Family’s and the Sport World’s marquis event—Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (July 24th-August 9th). The COVID-19 Pandemic has been exclusively responsible for the unanimous decision taken by all the major stakeholders to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games from the year 2020 to, some time, by the summer of 2021—even though the official name of the Games would still carry the prefix-2020. The uncertainty remains real, but the optimism is palpable and contagious.
CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES
As challenging a hand as the Pandemic has dealt the Olympic Movement and the wider global sport family, there exists a clear consensus that “this, too, will pass”, and, the historical narrative of the Games, and of the Olympic Movement, itself, would be redefined as, “before and after COVID-19”. There is a prevailing commitment to confront the challenges posed with a sense of realism and optimism, driven by an idealism very much akin to that which motivated the Founding Father (Pierre de Coubertin) of the Modern Olympic Games, some 125 years ago. Clearly, the recipe and attitude required, if we are to take advantage of the concomitant opportunities that the challenges bring with them. Presently, it is as if ‘the world has been closed for renovation’. The opportunity to host the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, by the summer of 2021, may just be the psychological fill up required; the international social festival needed; the recreation and re-creation zeal necessary; the economic stimulus and cultural renaissance anticipated — to usher in the ‘excellence, friendship and respect’—which are not limited to being core values of Olympic Sport, but of life itself.
Athlete Focus and Support
To date, no SKN athlete has qualified in any sport/discipline, be it individual or team. Nonetheless, the SKNOC continues to collaborate with the athletes and their National Federations and the respective coaches/trainers to ensure that there is credible representation at the Olympic and other Games/Competitions.
For the period October 2019 through to June 2020, some seven (7) athletes on the Elite Athlete Tokyo Assistance Programme, have been paid a total of EC $14,985 per month. Five (5) out of these seven (7) athletes are provided an additional amount of EC $2,700 each, as part of the Tokyo Olympic Athlete Scholarship Programme. This latter programme (Athlete Scholarship) runs from January 2018 through to August 2020, originally. This means, that athletes, for this programme alone, would have been provided some EC $75,600 each. Now that the Tokyo Olympic Games have been postponed until 2021, the decision has already been made to extend the financial support to August 2021. The St. Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee (SKNOC) expresses its utmost gratitude to its major partners the International Olympic Committee/Olympic Solidarity (IOC/OS) and the Panamsports for their sustained financial support in this regard.
REASON FOR HOPE AND CELEBRATION: CALENDAR OF ACTIVITIES
Amid the solemn atmosphere of the 2020 Pandemic era, the SKNOC has still managed to provide reason for hope and celebration this Olympic Day. For example:
Physical Infrastructural Development
The Launch of the SKNOC Renovation and Expansion Project 2020: This is essentially a physical infrastructure project which renovates and expands (by an additional 2321 sq. feet) the current Olympic House Headquarters of the organization; to create a total of 3308 sq. ft.
The project is estimated at EC$1.5 million for the construction phase with an additional amount re the furnishings, requisite ICT equipment and landscaping which could put the overall total to EC$2 million.
The building will accommodate (Ground Floor: Administration Offices)—a Museum, secretariat with rest rooms, stationary and filing cabinets’ room, Secretary-General’s Office, President’s Office, storeroom, Board Room, research room, kitchenette and cleaner’s room; and facilities friendly to the differently abled. Also, on the Ground Floor: in the Public/Member Federations’ (MFs’)/Presentation Centre space, there will be a foyer, Conference Room, Kitchenette, physically challenged compliant Rest Room, Male and Female Rest Room, and an IT Station.
Aesthetic and Environmental Value
Additionally, the SKNOC prides itself in stating that its intention in constructing this edifice is to add to the aesthetic and environmental value of the area on Taylor’s Range (immediate outskirts of the Main City, Basseterre), rapidly developing into an Institutional and Commercial Zone with the influx of iconic structures like the Solid Waste Management Corporation Headquarters, The Brimstone Hill Fortress City Offices, The Air Flight E-Zone Headquarters, The Carib Breweries Off-Site Office and the landmark Masonic Lodge, the Republic of China (Taiwan) Embassy Building, the remodeled Victoria Road Pre-school, The Zion Moravian Church– together with a number of remaining, classical, residential properties.
The SKNOC is happy for the opportunity through the construction of its Renovated and Expanded Headquarters to directly employ dozens of workers in the construction area and some additional 10-12 in the professional services area. You get the picture? SKNOC/CGA does make its contribution, in a variety of ways, to the economy of the Federation.
LAUNCH OF STRATEGIC PLAN 2021-2024
The SKNOC further scheduled the Launch of the of its Strategic Plan (SP) 2021-2024 to fit into the prelude of the Olympic Day Celebrations. The completed draft of the SP 2021-2024 is expected to be presented to the November 2020 Annual General Assembly (an Elective Assembly) for the ratification/approval of the general membership.
RECOGNITION OF SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT
The SKNOC received the proud and encouraging news that its nominee—Mr. Shawn Seabrooks—was selected from among the list of other nominees from the 41 NOC Countries of the Americas/Pan-American Region to pursue post-graduate studies (Master’s Level) in Physical Education, in Sochi, Russia. Mr. Seabrooks was one of the two Sports Journalists from St. Kitts and Nevis who attended and covered the PanAm Games, Lima 2019, on the invitation and critical support of the PanamSports.
OLYMPIC DAY RELEASE OF SPECIAL DOCUMENTARY
Whilst you may miss the customary Olympic Day Run on the programme of Activities for this year, we intend to offer you a special documentary which is entitled ‘Olympism in St. Kitts and Nevis (SKN)’ produced specifically for broadcast on Olympic Day 2020, via TV and social media. This documentary will feature Official Messages from local and International leaders of the Olympic Family as well as provide insights into the sojourn of the Member Federations thus far.
PRESENTATION OF MASKS TO MINISTRY OF HEALTH
This week, we continue our corporate responsibility in our community with the presentation to the Ministry of Health of a package of 200 face masks for use by its staff. A gesture in recognition of the seminal and exemplary model of sacrificial service they have provided and continue to provide in the management of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Much appreciation and sincerest thanks, must be offered, in this respect, to one of the SKNOC’s Associates (a supplier of promotional products and paraphernalia)—Mr. Boyle Lezhang of China.
SPECIAL FOCUS ON ANTI-DOPING
On a similar note, we have produced, specifically for the awareness of the general public, a few informational and educational presentations on Anti-Doping matters. These matters will be appropriately addressed by Mr. Leroy Greene, Assistant Secretary-General of the SKNOC and Member of the Executive of the Caribbean Regional Anti-Doping Organization (RADO) plus Dr. Dwain Archibald, Member of the National Anti-Doping Organization (NADO) of SKN.
RENDEZVOUS WITH THE HONOURABLE JONEL POWEL
I offer congratulations, on behalf of the entire Olympic and Commonwealth Games Family, to The Honourable Jonel Powell, who following his success at the recent June 5, 2020 General Elections, has been appointed Minister of Education, Youth, Sport and Culture.
The SKNOC/CGA will also like to express its thanks and appreciation to the Honourable Shawn K Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Infrastructure who served as Minister with responsibility for Sport over the past 5 years.
On Saturday June 20th, the SKNOC leadership held a rendezvous with The Honourable Jonel Powell as part of the Olympic Day Celebration Activities and used the occasion to take the Honourable Minister on a tour of the construction site of the Renovation and Expansion Project 2020.
FIRST VIRTUAL ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY
As an additional highlight of the Olympic Day Celebrations, a virtual Ordinary General Assembly of the SKNOC will be convened, on June 25th, 2020.
As I close, I remind you that the mantra of Olympic Day Celebration Activities remains relevant, even in these challenging times. Namely, to “Move, Learn and Discover”. Physical activity and sports still offer a true and tested way to protect ourselves from the scourge of chronic, communicable diseases. You recall the persistent charge not to “be a couch potato”? A charge that is still very pertinent!
Make a Commitment
Commit to turn the mundane task of doing the laundry, into and opportunity for physical activity. Take your cue, in this regard, from our former national soccer captain, Keith “Kayamba” Gumbs (see documentary) as to how creative one can get. Commit today to join the Worldwide Digital Celebration (Olympic Channel) and recognize the innovative and creative ways to engage in physical activity. Challenge yourself to complete 1000 steps. Note how long it took you to execute. Then commit, going forward, to reduce the time taken, or to increase the number of steps.
The Ultimate Charge: From Reflection to Empathy to Action
As if the CORONAVIRUS was not enough, the death of the black man, George Floyd at the feet of that police officer in the USA, challenges the Olympic Movement on this Olympic Day to look inwards, reach outwards and to project forward, in order to make its own transformative impact on the glaring institutional and systemic inequalities these two mind-boggling events have brought to the very core of our global consciousness.
The SKNOC exhorts us all to join with the forward-thinking movement that recognizes that we, indeed, have no choice but to ‘change or be changed’, by the tide of events. May we, as a result, be motivated to progress from reflection to empathy, from empathy to action in favour of meaningful change.
How I wish, come the summer of 2021, we can truly stand and shout to the mountain tops: “We got this”.
Have an enjoyable, memorable and safe Olympic Day 2020.