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Charlotte Amalie
Thursday, June 30, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesYOUTH GAMES OFF TO A SHAKY START

YOUTH GAMES OFF TO A SHAKY START

The Virgin Islands effort to host the 2000 World Youth Games has started out on the wrong foot and it remains to be seen if the games can be salvaged.
An estimated 600 young people and chaperones from five cities and the V.I. are on St. Croix to participate in the games. But before any events had taken place, Tuesday night's opening ceremonies at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted were cancelled because buses never picked up the kids.
On Wednesday, officers of the V.I. Youth Games Inc., off- and on-island volunteers, government employees and the president of the V.I. Olympic Committee, Hans Lawaetz, met to discuss how to salvage the event.
Lawaetz said Wednesday evening that the Olympic committee wasn’t involved in organizing the Youth Games and had in fact voted in June not to get involved because of its own funding issues in an Olympic year. Still, when organizers called seeking help, the committee offered logistical assistance in bringing the athletes, who are being housed all across the island, to their respective events.
"There is no money to pay for busing, that’s the biggest headache," Lawaetz said. "We feel that since there has been a commitment and these young athletes are here, there has to be a competition."
The president of the V.I. Youth Games Inc., Ralph Wilson, has moved to Texas and Orville Armstrong, an event coordinator, couldn’t be reached for comment. V.I. Youth Games Inc. officer Maureen Rabsatt-Cullar blamed lack of funding from the government and the private sector for the difficulties. "Unfortunately the support we received from the community wasn’t what we hoped it would be," she said.
Despite the lack of organization, Oliver Washington, national coordinator of the Youth Games, tried to put a positive spin on things. Washington, a South Carolina resident, said the games were back on track after Wednesday’s meeting.
"We’ve enjoyed ourselves so far and we look forward to the competition," he said.
Lawaetz said organizers are trying to arrange transportation from Vitran, Public Works and the Department of Housing Parks and Recreation. Depending on transport, basketball, golf and track and field events are set for Thursday, bowling and volleyball for Friday and swimming and tennis for Saturday. The games are scheduled to close on Sunday.
Lawaetz said the V.I. Olympic Committee earlier this year recommended to the local organizers that the games be cancelled because of financial shortfalls. But he said he was told it was too late — the visiting teams had already put down deposits for accommodations and travel.
He said the Olympic committee voted not to contribute because it had already spent more than $40,000 to send teams and individual athletes abroad to compete in pre-Olympic events.
"We spent a lot of money to get prepared for the Olympics. We just don’t have any money right now," Lawaetz said. "Our first priority are the federations and the Olympics. There is just so much we can do."

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The Virgin Islands effort to host the 2000 World Youth Games has started out on the wrong foot and it remains to be seen if the games can be salvaged.
An estimated 600 young people and chaperones from five cities and the V.I. are on St. Croix to participate in the games. But before any events had taken place, Tuesday night's opening ceremonies at the Paul E. Joseph Stadium in Frederiksted were cancelled because buses never picked up the kids.
On Wednesday, officers of the V.I. Youth Games Inc., off- and on-island volunteers, government employees and the president of the V.I. Olympic Committee, Hans Lawaetz, met to discuss how to salvage the event.
Lawaetz said Wednesday evening that the Olympic committee wasn’t involved in organizing the Youth Games and had in fact voted in June not to get involved because of its own funding issues in an Olympic year. Still, when organizers called seeking help, the committee offered logistical assistance in bringing the athletes, who are being housed all across the island, to their respective events.
"There is no money to pay for busing, that’s the biggest headache," Lawaetz said. "We feel that since there has been a commitment and these young athletes are here, there has to be a competition."
The president of the V.I. Youth Games Inc., Ralph Wilson, has moved to Texas and Orville Armstrong, an event coordinator, couldn’t be reached for comment. V.I. Youth Games Inc. officer Maureen Rabsatt-Cullar blamed lack of funding from the government and the private sector for the difficulties. "Unfortunately the support we received from the community wasn’t what we hoped it would be," she said.
Despite the lack of organization, Oliver Washington, national coordinator of the Youth Games, tried to put a positive spin on things. Washington, a South Carolina resident, said the games were back on track after Wednesday’s meeting.
"We’ve enjoyed ourselves so far and we look forward to the competition," he said.
Lawaetz said organizers are trying to arrange transportation from Vitran, Public Works and the Department of Housing Parks and Recreation. Depending on transport, basketball, golf and track and field events are set for Thursday, bowling and volleyball for Friday and swimming and tennis for Saturday. The games are scheduled to close on Sunday.
Lawaetz said the V.I. Olympic Committee earlier this year recommended to the local organizers that the games be cancelled because of financial shortfalls. But he said he was told it was too late -- the visiting teams had already put down deposits for accommodations and travel.
He said the Olympic committee voted not to contribute because it had already spent more than $40,000 to send teams and individual athletes abroad to compete in pre-Olympic events.
"We spent a lot of money to get prepared for the Olympics. We just don’t have any money right now," Lawaetz said. "Our first priority are the federations and the Olympics. There is just so much we can do."