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Gibraltar under the spotlight as Island Games delegates view facilities

The cute smile of Gibraltar’s Island Games mascot brought to a close two long days in which Gibraltar’s Island Games Organising Committee was under the spotlight.

The mascot was unveiled yesterday evening at a reception held at the Bistro Point, located at the University of Gibraltar and overlooking one of the many sports facilities under construction which will be used next year.

Organisers hope the cartoon image of a common dolphin of the sort found in the Bay of Gibraltar will be one of the many memories athletes will be taking with them next July.

The mascot itself was described as an illustration of the work taking place behind the scenes and will not only act as a symbol of the games, but will also be part of the merchandise organisers hope will be available to visitors.

With just a year left, representatives from 23 of the 24 member islands of the International Island Games Association arrived on the Rock where they have, during the past two days been briefed on what to expect next year.

Today delegates will conclude the official side of their visit when they take part in the annual general meeting of the International Islands Games Association which will discuss many of the issues raised during the week.

Delegates have during the past two days toured many of the sites which will be used as part of the sports facilities. On Friday they visited the main accommodation areas, including the Europa Point residential site which will become the Island Games athlete’s village.

Although many sites were still under construction some delegates were not concerned about what they were seeing, instead one commented, “we are quite happy. This is exactly what we need to tell our guys about what they will be getting.”

On Thursday the delegates were taken to the Gibraltar Pistol Association premises which is behind the Lathbury Barracks sports complex. There they had a chance to be briefed by some of the different sporting associations before heading to their next briefing point.

This was the first opportunity to see at close hand the works taking place at Lathbury Barracks.

Any doubts as to whether the facilities would be ready in time were dispelled by organisers who expressed confidence as to the progress of works.

“We are trying to transmit to delegates that everything is on time,” commented GSLA CEO Reegan Lima. “Lets be honest about it one of the advantages of hosting the Games in Gibraltar is that our athletes can train on the facilities beforehand.”

During the visit it was also revealed that new sites have recently been allocated including a new site for one of the pistol events which will take place in an area at Princess Caroline’s Battery. The visiting delegates also welcomed the fact an emphasis had been placed on making it a spectator event.

GSLA CEO Reegan Lima also highlighted, “It is unfair to compare the games to the “sunshine Games.” It has to be judged on its own merits,” as he highlighted that there were many new facilities now than there had been in the 1995 games.

Friday was one of the more intensely debated days of the tour as delegates were shown around the area proposed as the Island Games Athletes village. Which organisers hoped would be among one of the key memories they could take with them.

George Parody, who was tasked to provide accommodation for 2500 athletes and officials described it as “one of the most difficult tasks”. He nevertheless explained that after the initial proposals to use schools for accommodation had been “thrown out the window” they had been able to come up with solutions which would meet “the numbers” required.

Although the Island Games Athletes Village concept at Europa Point had been welcomed by many, some delegates expressed concerns that were met head-on by Linda Alvarez, Chairwoman the Gibraltar Island Games Committee.

“I understand it’s way out. I understand hotels are cheaper, but this is what we’ve got. We are happy for constructive ideas, but this is what it is. We only have a limited amount of beds, if you don’t like it don’t come. I cannot change it. Helps us to provide you with what you want,” she said as she addressed delegates at a meeting at the University of Gibraltar.

Her comments led to an immediate applause led by two of the heads of the IIGA who had stayed to listen in instead of going to their scheduled tour of the Lathbury Barracks Sports complex.

Earlier on in during the visit delegates had already expressed their satisfaction at the level of sports facilities that were being put on offer.

“You are likely to host a fabulous games,” was the initial verdict of one of the Gotland Island Games delegates after the first day of visiting the site.

Although he had not attended the 1995 games, he recalled the success of the event, at the same time highlighting that many of the facilities on offer are either being built, or did not exist during the last Island Games held in Gibraltar.

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