Date: 28 Nov 2009
Speaker: Michael Fennell – CGF President
Location: Trinidad and Tobago
The Hon Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad & Tobago, distinguished Presidents and Prime Ministers, Rt. HE Mr. Kamalesh Sharma, Secretary General of the Commonwealth distinguished Leaders of the Commonwealth, you have honored us once again with your presence here at what has become well known as the CHOGM Sports Breakfast. We thank you for the opportunity this year to reflect on the continued power of sport to transcend the crises and pressures that societies across the Commonwealth face and the positive impact sport continues to have on the lives of individuals and our economies.
Our next big event is of course the XIX Commonwealth Games to be hosted in Delhi, India next year and on Thursday 29th October we had a most successful launch of the Queen’s Baton Relay at Buckingham Palace by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and on this occasion we were honored to have had with us the President of India, the Commonwealth Secretary General Mr. Kamalesh Sharma and members of the Delhi 2010 organising committee led by its chairman Mr. Suresh Kalmadi.
This Baton will visit all 70 Commonwealth Countries and Territories and it will be a little while before it reaches Trinidad & Tobago on 22nd February 2010. This epic journey will cover approximately 170,000 kms, before travelling the length and breadth of India to be received at the Opening Ceremony of the 19th Commonwealth Games in October 2010, when the message contained within the baton will be read.
I would encourage all of you to support this tangible and traditional symbol of the Commonwealth Games as it travels through your country, creating enduring bonds of friendship, as we all celebrate the achievements of past sporting legends and inspire those of the future.
Since we last met in Kampala the whole world has had the opportunity through the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008 and the World Athletics Championships in Berlin earlier this year to witness the very best of Commonwealth sport in action.
My fellow Jamaican, Usain Bolt, took the world by storm and inspired a whole new generation of young people, with three fantastic world records in Beijing and repeated a year later in Berlin.
In like manner, Barbadian, Ryan Braithwaite, inspired us all with his gold in the 110m hurdles in Berlin and Richard Thompson of T&T, who unfortunately could not be with us this morning, who became a local hero when he took the silver in that epic 100m final in Beijing. What a prospect we have in store for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi next year.
With the support of you, the government and us, the sports administrators we can ensure that role models like these proliferate in all sports, across all corners of the Commonwealth.
I regret sport in general as a tremendous antidote to the harsh realities many individuals across the Commonwealth are now facing on a daily basis. Sport is a real tonic that unifies families, communities and nations at a time when economic uncertainty can be so demotivated and drive a wedge between people.
Whilst Sport is certainly not recession-proof, on balance, many are optimistic that the industry has and will continue to grow throughout this particular period. Commercial partners are continuing to provide substantial sponsorship of sports events, and there is strong evidence of a growing interest in governments to support bids for hosting major events, despite the huge pressures on their finances.
I was indeed pleased to have met with a number of officials from prospective bid cities at the Commonwealth Games Federation’s recent General Assembly in Delhi. His Excellency the President of Nigeria has already announced publicly that Abuja will bid again for the 2018 Games and officials from both Auckland and the Gold Coast Held Preliminary discussions with the CGF regarding their potential bids.
As an event owner, we do recognise that there is a limit to what Governments can afford to pay to host such events, that there is now a bewildering array to choose from and that an increasingly large portion of Government expenditure is and should be focused on satisfying other social imperatives such as education and health, but we are convinced that the benefits of sport, both short and long term, should not be undervalued.
To draw upon the theme of this CHOGM “Partnering for a more equitable and sustainable future” the CGF encourages and supports all our bid and host cities to utilise the Commonwealth’s network of experts in sport to ensure that lessons can be passed on from one Games o the next.
The CGF has invested heavily in a Knowledge Transfer Programme in recent years that is available to assist cities considering bidding, so that they make best use of the information available to them from previous hosts and understand the scale and nuances of the project and the costs involved.
As a result, Games legacy planning is starting much earlier in the event cycle and we have been especially pleased to see that the local government in Glasgow has already launched their legacy plans for the city, five years out from the 2014 Commonwealth Games. To quote Councilor Steven Purcell, the leader of the Glasgow Council;
“I am determined that every Glaswegian will take home memories, but I also want them to take home aspirations for the future.”
How important this message is for all of us, particularly for a Commonwealth that is looking to engage with young people.
I am, however conscious that for some of you, hosting the modern Commonwealth Games in your country will be considered out of reach and for this reason the CGF is committed to offering hosting opportunities outside of our main event, such as our annual General Assembly and Commonwealth Youth Games.
The 2008 CGF General Assembly was very successfully hosted by The Gambia. The Assembly brings together around 200 delegates from our Commonwealth Games Associations and provides a platform to raise sport up the policy agenda and showcase the capacity of the host as a place for meetings and events through the positive publicity that it brings.
In 2011 the eyes of the Commonwealth will be on the Isle of Man in September, as the host of our young athletes at the IVth Commonwealth youth games and then afterwards in St Kitts & Nevis who will be hosting our General Assembly when the decision for the hosts of the 2018 Commonwealth Games will be made.
Returning finally to the next edition of the Commonwealth Games, with a little over 300 days to go momentum is really starting to build for all the athletes preparing to go to the Games.
I thank the Indian Government and the Prime Minister in particular for his unswerving commitment to the project, particularly in the context of such testing economic times.
So as the countdown continues, I am sure you will all join me in wishing India the greatest success in hosting a spectacular Games next year for the whole Commonwealth to enjoy.
Sport is indeed a powerful force for good, for development of our people and for the inspiration of our countries and I am so pleased that Prime Minister Bruce Golding of Jamaica is with us this morning and I now invite him to share with us something of the Jamaican experience.
Download the speech: Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) CHOGM Presentation