Gibraltar wins bid to host 'mini Olympics'
Sports fans are celebrating after it was announced that the 2019 Island Games will be held in Gibraltar. The event will see thousands of international athletes competing against each other in over a dozen sports.
However, many Gibraltarians have criticised the decision to axe three of the event’s most popular sports – football, cycling and volleyball. Organisers announced that they will be replaced by tenpin bowling, judo and squash.
The news sparked heated debates on Gibraltar-based websites, with one user saying: “Strange decision, will seriously affect the overall attendance and spectatorship for the whole event.”
Following the announcement, the Gibraltar Football Association said that football had been dropped due to a lack of facilities.
A spokesperson for the GFA, said: “At this moment in time, with only one football stadium in Gibraltar [the Victoria Stadium] it is physically and logistically impossible to stage the amount of matches needed to complete both men’s and women’s tournaments simultaneously within the period of time the Island Games competition runs for.
“It may be that by 2019 we will have more football facilities in Gibraltar, but even then the size of the two football tournaments in the Island Games in their current format is such that they might still prove impossible to host.
“The Gibraltar FA will nonetheless look to explore with GIGA (the Gibraltar Island Games Association) ways in which a tournament with a smaller format, perhaps with pre-qualification taking place elsewhere, might work alongside the Island Games proper. The Gibraltar FA is ready to contribute to making the games a success for all of Gibraltar in 2019.”
Gibraltar’s Minister for Sport, Steven Linares, added: “I am delighted to hear that Gibraltar will once again be hosting the Island Games in 2019. As someone who took part in the Gibraltar Sunshine Games in 1995, I know that the whole of our community will engage once again to make these games very successful.”
Golf has also been dropped as the British Overseas Territory does not have a golf course.
Gibraltar, who previously hosted the games in 1995, stepped in to host the games in 2019 after the Spanish island of Menorca pulled out of hosting the event due to a change in government in July.
Some 3,000 people attending the games are set to be accommodated on Gibraltar’s five-star floating hotel, the Sunborn.
The games happen once every two years and see small island nations from around the world compete against each other in what has been dubbed the ‘mini Olympics.’
Jersey hosted this year’s event which finished in June and saw 2,700 athletes from 24 islands competing across 14 sports.
The games started in 1985 after the Isle of Man decided to bring together athletes from small islands worldwide in a new sporting festival. The initial games attracted 700 sportsmen and women from 15 islands as far away as the Faroe Islands and St Helena in the South Atlantic. Following the inaugural competition, organisers agreed to continue it every other year and the second games were held in Guernsey in 1987.
The Swedish island of Gotland will host the next event in 2017, while Guernsey have put in a bid for 2021.source surinegnlsih