Big Jamaica welcome planned

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Four days of celebrations, including motorcades throughout the Corporate Area and Montego Bay, St James, are among the proposals to celebrate the accomplishments of Jamaica’s Olympic team at the just-concluded Beijing Games in China.

Jamaica House released the considerations Monday after Prime Minister Bruce Golding met with members of the Olympic Homecoming Planning Committee.

The motorcades might include using select routes throughout the cities. Grand galas in Kingston and Trelawny, visits to communities and schools, a major reception in Kingston and a thanksgiving church service are also being considered.

Golding said the Government is working to establish a centre of international sporting excellence through which new and upcoming talents in all sports will be identified and provided with professional training.

The Government will also be strengthening the institutional support for sporting organisations such as the Jamaica Amateur Athletic Association, the Jamaica Olympic Association, and the Institute of Sports, to help them to upgrade and improve their services.

Golding said the Government also wants to look at long-term development programmes for accomplished sportspersons.

While the committee puts together plans for the celebrations of the Olympic team, as well as appropriate rewards for the athletes and their coaches, the Government is also considering long-term development plans and benefits.

Golding said these benefits should include the provision of health insurance, the creation of a medical centre that would address the medical needs for all sporting activities, benefits for retired athletes, financial advice and management of finances.

Special bank account

The meeting proposed the establishment of a special bank account through which organisations and individuals could contribute to the development of some of the programmes being put forward.

The reintroduction of a well-rounded physical education programme in schools starting at the primary level was also discussed and this is to be developed in consultation with the Ministry of Education.

The celebrations of the homecoming of the Olympic team will be finalised on the return of sports minister, Olivia Grange, who is scheduled to arrive from Beijing later this week.

The celebratory activities are being proposed for the end of September when most of the athletes are expected to complete participation in other competitive sporting events in Europe.