Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the Government continued to invest in improving the country’s sport infrastructure, even in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“In spite of the pandemic, we were working. We used the opportunity to do things that did not involve large gatherings and to get the infrastructure up to date during the slow period,” she said, during her contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representative, on June 8.
Providing an update, Ms. Grange informed that the Government is procuring a new pump for the pool at the National Aquatic Centre, which should arrive and be installed by the end of the month.
“In the meantime, we hired divers to clean the pool, so that our aquatic athletes are still able to use the facility,” she said.
Ms. Grange further informed that the running track inside the National Stadium was recently resurfaced at a cost of $60 million.
“The track manufacturers also created and installed an outdoor basketball court made especially for Jamaica. We will monitor the performance of that surface… to see if it will be a suitable [material] to replace the outdoor netball courts, which are currently far from ideal,” she said.
In the meantime, the Minister informed that the Government continues to pursue the redevelopment of the National Stadium and the Trelawny Stadium.
“Our development proposal, which is currently going through the Public Investment Management system, will see both facilities being transformed over a period of five years into modern stadia with state-of-the-art facilities that will be able to sustain their operations. In fact, the Trelawny Stadium will be at the centre of sports tourism and entertainment,” she said.
Ms. Grange further noted that the Government is continuing to invest in facilities at the grassroots level, pointing out that during the last financial year, $117 million was spent through the Sports Development Foundation Jamaica to put in and upgrade sports facilities in 20 schools and communities.
On another matter, the Minister said “our major challenge and greatest success” during the difficult period was working with the various federations to achieve the safe reopening of the sport sector.
“The well-designed protocols have served to keep our athletes, coaches and officials safe. The Ministry has also facilitated the vaccination of several of our athletes and coaches as they get ready for local and international competitions,” Ms. Grange noted.
She encouraged Jamaicans to continue to observe the protocols, “whether they are vaccinated or not”, and urged athletes who are not yet vaccinated to do so now.