Sunday Meditation: Should we spend that $80 million on our athletes?

Sunday Meditation: Should we spend that $80 million on our athletes?

Jamaica dominated the 2016 Rio Olympics. There is no doubt, no challenge and no competition to that. It is just fact, don't debate me on this. Beating back almost all challengers, we came, we saw, we took the gold medals and left the world in awe at the raw talent present in what many would consider a third world country mired in debt. The mighty USA almost tired fi see we face or in this case, our backs. Fast forward to October where we are to celebrate our athletes' achievements to the tune of $80 million with over half of that being cash rewards....

 

The 2016 Olympic and Paralympic athletes will receive cash awards totalling $42 million in honour of their outstanding performances at the recent summer games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The reward system will be as follows: gold medallists – US$10,000; silver medallists – US$7,500; and bronze medallists – US$5,000; relay gold medallists – US$6,000; relay silver medallists – US$4,000; relay bronze medallists – US$3,500; finalists – US$3,500; non-finalists – US$2,500; and managers and officials – US$1,000.
— Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia "Babsy" Grange

Of course the Jamaica Labour party came under criticism for this decision. With crime rampant and the country's economy stagnant, it was bound to be a talking point for many but perhaps none more than the People's National Party who seem to have awoken from their slumber and sniffed something to complain about. In this case it was the youth arm of the PNP who made the call as the main party heads still seemed preoccupied with strangling the life out of the party. They claimed that the 80 million should be used to build and develop programs that will promote Jamaica's dominance rather than using it for a weekend of entertainment. But is the PNPYO being hypocritical?

Backtrack to 4 years ago to 2012, when Jamaica once again dominated their respective events and we were once again searching for a suitable way to reward them for their service to their country. Everyone agreed that no expense was to be spared when rewarding these athletes who gave selflessly for their country. Unlike the World Championships and the Diamond Leagues that offer some monetary compensation, the Olympics offer no such rewards other than the fame and glory. In fact, it was not long ago that Jamaica was embarrassed in that some of our former athletes were seen to have fallen on hard times despite rising to the challenge of representing their country proudly. Even our current crop of athletes despite being some of the most successful had to spend their time in a sub-par hotel of which I am pretty sure we all saw that video. 

In my opinion, the $80 million is well deserved for our athletes though I respect the point brought across by the PNPYO. Perhaps if they were not blatantly playing politics, I would even support them. But for now, let us revel in our victory  that was well fought for by our athletes. It is their moment and for some, their last. Send them out with shout and not a whimper.


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