Remarks by the Hon. Olivia Grange at welcome reception for the Beijing contingent at Norman Manley International Airport

Release Date: 
Friday, October 3, 2008 - 13:00

It has been almost non-stop celebration by this nation since the first race was won - the 100 meters in record breaking time by Usain (Bolt). Every other triumph by our athletes in Beijing has kept the jubilation going and so it continued when we welcomed home the team members who returned prior to this week.

But now ladies and gentlemen, the time has finally come, the moment has arrived when we have all of the athletes, the coaches, the administrators; the entire team together.

We are now in the set position to launch the celebration of celebrations to honour our wonderful, our magnificent, our superb, our stupendous team to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The team which came a way with a record number of World Records, a record number of Olympic Records and a Record Number of Medals. A truly record-breaking team. You will forgive me if I preen a little bit about how good it is to be the Minister of Sports at this time.

But seriously as the Minister with the portfolio responsibility and as one of the thousands and thousands of proud Jamaicans, I want to use this occasion simply to once again offer my congratulations to every single member of the team: athletes, coaches, administrators. Congratulations to the parents and other persons who support our athletes. Congratulations to the schools - primary, secondary and tertiary - which helped to shape them. Congratulations to their track clubs. Congratulations to the communities which nurtured them. Congratulations to the sponsors who have provided support and will continue to do so.

Even if there were those who were not so minded, the Beijing Experience has made up our minds for us. It can never again be business as usual with Sports in Jamaica. I can't think of any reason why the eyes of the country should not be fully open now to the possibilities of the contribution that sports can make as we journey for economic and social development for our people.

I number myself and the Prime Minister among those who had always been believers and so in a way, the Beijing Experience served to endorse what we were already convinced of and what the Government was already convinced of. Sports can be big, very big for individuals, for communities and for the nation.

My Ministry, the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports (MICYS) is pretty close now to completing the first draft of what is intended to be a Sport Industry Policy for Jamaica.

The Sport Policy is taking its cue from the irrefutable evidence that sports is important to Jamaicans in every community. Sports generates important values such as team spirit, solidarity, tolerance and fair play. It promotes the active contribution of Jamaicans to society and so helps to foster active citizenship.

The conclusion is inescapable - the highest priority must be given to sports as a focal point of national social and economic development.

And so it will be ladies and gentlemen.