The 2020 Great Race takes off on Saturday but some Tobago stakeholders are not excited.
In an interview with Newsday last Friday, Crown Point Partnership Association vice president Shirley Cooke said she does not see any benefit to Tobago. The annual event is hosted by the TT Power Boat Association.
Cooke said, “The general consensus is that there is no feasible benefit that people can really pinpoint for having this race at this time. Even when I listened to the co-ordinator, he didn’t allude to any economic benefit or anything that is significant that it is bringing to Tobago."
She said the TTPBA should have used 20020 as a year for introspection.
“They could have used this time to rethink the Great Race in terms of its location, its impact and all.”
She believes that its staging is for bragging rights or just to fill a gap and maintain the event on the calendar.
“Unless somebody could come up with some reason why... I have no clue on why this is taking place. If it is public sector funds going into it, we cannot be in the business of conducting events for bragging rights. Private people with their private monies can do that stuff, particularly in times when monies are crunched and people are still hurting from this pandemic and lack of the support that was laid out... People are still struggling through that,” she said.
Newsday spoke to Sports Minister Shamfa Cudjoe who said no funds were requested or disbursed this year.
Cooke added, “It goes to show that there needs to be a serious vision for events, particularly in Tobago. Whatever Trinidad does is fine, but we need to review events in Tobago; in general, what is the policy on events. Events are created particularly when governments inject taxpayers' money into it, to create an economic activity and if it is not doing that, there is no purpose for the event.
“Is the event affording us some kind of international promotion... I don’t see that because we don’t have international participation, so I am trying to grasp what is the purpose of conducting this event. Is it just to spend money, but when you spend money on events, there is suppose to be some level of trickle down economics to the people.”
TTPBA president Marcus Gomez told Newsday previously that at least 25 boats would be competing, including all engine classes.
He said, “I wouldn’t consider it scaled down. It will be to the point and there will be virtually no spectators. Everything (apart from the race) will be done online. The boats will be towed back from Tobago right after they finish.”
Gomez said the team briefings will be done virtually and there will be no pre- or post-race activities for spectators. Racers will undergo basic medical screening, including temperature checks and standard covid19 questionnaire.
The TTPBA had issued a statement thanking the Government, especially the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health and the Minister of National Security for giving clearance for the event to proceed.
The event will be live streamed on the association’s Facebook page.