The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is seeking a new host for its World Relays event after the Bahamas government opted to end its hosting agreement.
The Caribbean country has been the home of the World Relays since the event’s formation in 2014 and was due to host its fourth edition from May 10-11 next year. However, the government is reported to have taken the decision to end the contract due to concerns over the cost of hosting the event.
While the government has yet to comment on the matter, the news has been widely reported in local media. Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations’ president Rosamunde Carey, who served as chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the last World Relays in 2017, told The Tribune newspaper: “It’s very unfortunate that after working so hard to make the Bahamas the destination for the World Relays that we won’t be able to host it again.
“Over the years, we have made this one of the premier events hosted by the IAAF, because a lot of the things that were introduced at the World Relays are now being staged at various meets by the IAAF.”
The latest innovation introduced by the World Relays was the mixed relays, which was utilised at last year’s event and has now been added to the programme for the 2019 World Championships in Doha, Qatar.
Carey said she had spoken to IAAF president Sebastian Coe and that a decision on a replacement host country is expected to be announced next week.
“It’s very disappointing, but we understand the consensus of the government,” she said. “As the former chairman, I just want to say thank you to the previous Bahamas government and the IAAF for allowing us to showcase such a prestigious event.
“We have made the Bahamas a global sporting mecca, hosting the event to the high standard that the IAAF expected us to put on. We have been able to put the event as a staple on their calendar and fulfil the confidence that they had placed in our council and the Bahamas in general.”
The Bahamas’ fellow Caribbean country, Jamaica, has already signalled its interest in the 2019 World Relays. Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) president Dr Warren Blake said he is keen on staging the event, but added that it would require financial backing from the government as the National Stadium would need significant upgrades.
“JAAA is willing to take it on, once we have the government's support,” Blake told The Gleaner newspaper. “We made this position clear months ago, when we became aware that there may have been a vote against it. We are very interested in hosting the World Relays, it just depends on the financial backing of the government.”