Rhodes ready to host biggest-ever Island Games
RHODES is gearing up for the biggest NatWest Island Games to date with around 3,200 competitors, officials, technicians and press personnel expected to travel there in late June.
Exactly 100 days before the start of the XII Games, Lee Minaidis, chairman of the Rhodes Organising Committee, confirmed yesterday that despite problems all the facilities will be read for the seven-day sporting show and the residents will welcome everyone with open arms.
Minaidis said: 'Everything is moving along quite well.
There has been a delay with the shooting facilities, because of problems obtaining building permits, but this has been resolved this week.
'The clay target range will be built by a company called La Porte, they are well known as they built the clay target facilities for the 2004 Olympics.
All the equipment to build it is already in Rhodes so now we have obtained the permit work will start very soon.
'Work on the pistol range has begun too, Jersey's Derek Bernard has given us a lot of advice on this facility.
He is a very experienced shooter and we are grateful to him for his assistance.
'Some sports are not so well known to our Island so we have to have help.
Our goals and aims are the same as the Island Games Association; they are to help improve our infrastructure therefore improving participation long term for our people.' With such a large number now attending Rhodes there will now be two Games Villages, one in Rhodes centre and the other ten minutes away.
'We did hope to have everyone together but that is now not possible with the numbers.
But it is not a problem because both areas are not far from athletics centre and the nautical area where the majority of the sports will take place,' said Minaidis.
The official confirmed that the opening ceremony would be held in an ancient stadium which holds up to around 9,000.
Details of the ceremony are always closely guarded secrets although Minaidis confirmed it would based on an ancient theme.
Traditionally the town centre criterium cycling race is the last sporting discipline but this will not be the case in Rhodes as traffic police believe it will cause a lot of problems.
The town race will now be held on the Sunday (1 July) from 5 pm with the final Games events being the football final at 5 pm and the triathlon which beings an hour earlier.
Around 600 volunteers have already signed up to help out at all events.
A bus transport system will be in place to ferry competitors and spectators between the sporting venues.
The Rhodes official says their Islanders are supporting the Games and that security will be good, following on from the much-published football match abandonment between Rhodes and Guernsey in Guernsey four years ago.
Minaidis said: 'It was a very unfortunate what happened in Guernsey and none of the players involved have taken part in an Island Games again.
'It was out of keeping and measures have been taken to ensure it does not happen again.
We have close contact with the National and Municipality police and the special force agency have given us advice and guidance.
'I do not foresee any repetition.
Everyone was very upset with what happened in Guernsey, those who were there and those back home.
Rhodes people are hospitable and very friendly and I'm sure that will be the case during our Games.
'I'm very satisfied with the plan, a lot has happened over the past three or four years to get everything organised and ready.
What I'm really looking forward to is seeing everything drop into place.' The Chairman of the Rhodes Organising Committee is in the Island for several days for a series of Island Games Association Executive Committee meetings.
The group are looking at Jersey's new sporting facilities since they were last here in 1997, when Jersey were Games hosts, while today they were in Alderney meeting with their Island Games officials.
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