After a stumbling start two days earlier, the 2000 World Youth Games being held on St. Croix appeared to be back in the running Thursday morning, as hundreds of young athletes and their chaperones were transported aboard Vitran buses to competitive events at four venues. "Public Works provided the buses. We set up a schedule," said a Youth Games representative.
Vitran supervisor Cliffy Taylor said he was able to put two buses into service for the effort, of the four currently in operation. "I called in an extra driver and used an extra bus," he said, "and on one route that is not so revenue-producing, we used that bus also."
He said Vitran will continue to provide bus services for the Youth Games through the conclusion of the event on Sunday. "In fact, we are mandated to do so," he added, explaining that a directive to that effect had come from Public Works Commissioner Harold Thompson Jr.
Thursday's events consisted of basketball, track and field, and an academic competition similar to the Quiz Bowl at the Education Complex; golf at Carambola; bowling at Tropical Ten Pins in Castle Coakley; and tennis at Club St. Croix.
Confirmed for Friday's schedule are volleyball at Complex and basketball at the Claude O. Markoe School. There appeared to be some confusion as to when the swimming competition would take place at the St. Croix Dolphins pool at Country Day School. "A couple of off-island groups have come here wanting to know when it will be," a Country Day office employee said. She said it was her understanding that it was scheduled for Saturday but that no one in the office was sure.
An estimated 600 young people and chaperones from five mainland cities and the Virgin Islands congregated on the Big Island at the start of the week to participate in the games. But Tuesday night's opening ceremonies at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted were canceled because there was no transportation to get the youngsters there from their hotels.
On Wednesday, officers of the V.I. Youth Games Inc., local and off-island volunteers, government employees and the president of the V.I. Olympic Committee met to discuss how to salvage the event. The South Carolina games contingent decided to pay for its own transportation if there were no other options, group treasurer Ivadella Walters said.
VIOC president Hans Lawaetz said the Olympic Committee had voted in June not to contribute financially to the Youth Games because of its own funding demands to support V.I. athletes seeking to qualify for the Olympic Games in Australia in September. "We just don't have any money right now," he said. "Our first priorities are the federations and the Olympics. There is just so much we can do."
Still, when organizers called seeking help, the committee offered logistical assistance. "We feel that since there has been a commitment and these young athletes are here, there has to be a competition," Lawaertz said.
The games conclude Sunday.
Editor's note: For further information on the event, see the earlier story headed "Youth Games off to a shaky start."