Monday, May 20, 2024

Golden Grand Prix may end before it starts

Botswana Golden Grand Prix chief organiser Glody Dube has confirmed he will be resigning from the Local Organising Committee (LOC) tomorrow, Monday 27th February 2027.

This follows the government’s decision not to grant him leave from work to focus on delivering the event. It is alleged that he had requested for an unpaid leave- a request which was also turned down.

Speaking in an interview, Dube says his decision stems from what he believes is lack of support for the event from certain quarters, more especially from within the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA). He believes the same people have now gone all out to frustrate the event.

He says that from the day Botswana was awarded the gold status, proper procedures were not followed which led to this moment of anguish. As a norm and tradition for the awarding of the status, the Gold status is presented by the President of the host country. This was however not to be with Botswana.

“The reason why such status achievements are announced by the President of the country is to drive momentum, to aid with alerting private entities that their help will be needed. When Kenya was awarded its status, it was the Kenyan President who made the announcement regarding Kip Keino classic. This also happened in all the other twelve cities of the world holding this status,” he explains.

Dube says the blame for this cannot be placed at the door of the office of the Presidency as they were not aware. He says it all has to do with people within who failed to follow procedure and alert the office of President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi. He says the government, through the Ministry of Sport (MYSC) continues to support the event.

“To show their support, MYSC appointed Geoffrey Gare to be their representative in the LOC, and he currently sits as the Chairman. This is in addition to the P 1.2 million sponsorship they have shelled out for this event,” he explains.

Explaining the current fall out, Dube says the problem arose when Gare went to the BAA General Manager Pinkie Wilson to enquire about the relevance of the tour and how it will serve Botswana. “This is where Wilson alluded to Gare that the tour is a personal event for Golden Door Sport Agency. This is despite the Botswana Government being in signatories in the agreement with World Athletics when handing out the status.”

Following this, he says he was then turned down when requesting  leave from his duties as a teacher to focus on successfully delivering the event. Even some attempts by World Athletics to show the relevance of the tour and ask for his recusal from work to focus on organizing the event were disapproved.

“Just this past week, Gare and Wilson came to Modipane Primary where the Principle bagged them to help me get a leave, only for them to deliver the news that my request has yet again been denied. I am frustrated as I have to juggle teaching and organizing this event from a classroom. I have even failed to honour meetings with prospective sponsors. When they want to meet, I am in class yet i am expected to deliver a world class event.” Says Dube.

Dube says attempts to get Minister of Sport Tumiso Rakgare to intervene have also failed as he has been denied access. With only eight weeks remaining and the pressure mounting from World Athletics, he says he is ready to walk away. He says he is left with little choice and is ready to pull Golden Door Sport Agency from organising the event and leaving the Government to host the event on its own.

Should Golden Door Sports Agency quit then event, Botswana will lose the opportunity to host a world event in its own backyard. Already, some of the world and then continent’s biggest track stars are billed to make an appearance.

Among top female athletes available for invitation to Botswana are Shelly Ann Fraser-Pryce and Candice Macleod from Jamaica, Courtney Okolo from USA as well as Egypt’s Basant Hemida. In the male athletes section, available athletes include Jamaican sprinters Ackeem Blake and Tyquendo Tracey, Canada’s Andre de Grasse as well as USA’s Marvin Bracy and Vernon Norwood, just to mention a few. Top female athletes who are available include

Aside from losing then chance to pull the best athletes to its shores, the country may also face sanctions from World Athletics.  This is also confirmed by Dube himself.  “Keep in mind that Golden Door Sport Agency pulling out means World Athletics pulls out too and that will be the end of Botswana hosting any track and field event. Obviously the country will be sanctioned and may be sued just because people are trying to sabotage the country.  They wrongly believe the event is mine and the money alluded is mine. This event is for Botswana hence ‘Botswana Golden Grand Prix.’ The money is for participates and preparation,” he concludes.

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