By Sharon Austin
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados is expected to get some critical assistance from China in relation to sports, according to Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who said there were ongoing discussions with the government of China regarding a number of initiatives related to the government’s sports programme.
Stuart made the comments on Wednesday, after touring the Barbados Olympic Centre, where he viewed the museum.
He told the media: “When I met [recently] with the president of China in Port-of-Spain, he announced that the Chinese were committing US$ 1.5 billion to infrastructure development in the Caribbean. And, of course we have issues relating to our sporting infrastructure and, therefore, we will be making our own claims in that regard.”
The prime minister pointed out that the discussions with the Chinese included the national stadium, which he described as in desperate need of modernisation. He further disclosed that, “not too long from now”, Barbados should have a very modern facility.
He continued: “The discussions are taking place…within a positive aura and we are going to be alright not too long from now.”
In the past, some sports people have complained that their employers were refusing to give them time off to train and Stuart said it was necessary to help employers understand that sport is important to the country’s development and that it could have a positive effect on their businesses.
“We have to get people around to the stage where they understand the importance of sport in the country… You have to give your sportsmen the kind of flexibility they need, consistent with the interest of the business, to do the kind of work they need to do in order to be top performers. And, when they become top performers there are positive spin-offs for all of us,” he contended.
The prime minister highlighted the advertisement Jamaica receives from its top athletes, including Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser and Veronica Campbell-Brown, and indicated that the country would be bankrupt if it had to pay for the publicity.
“So, sportsmen of whatever stripe have a critical role to play in a country’s development,” he stressed.