GUERNSEY’S Island Games director believes the two largest Channel Islands may not be able to host the multi-sport event again, amid concerns over finance and accommodation.
Jon Marley says staging the Games, which attracts thousands of visiting athletes and support staff from across the globe, is becoming ever more challenging due to rising costs and a decrease in available beds.
The 19th edition of the biennial event was originally due be held in Guernsey in 2021 but was delayed by two years due to the pandemic. Since then, fuel and travel costs have increased exponentially, while, like in Jersey, many hotels have closed for redevelopment into flats.
The Games is now due to be held on the sister isle this summer, from 8-14 July, although Caesarean supporters are reported to have had trouble finding accommodation due to widespread block bookings for competitors and officials.
‘The climate [has changed], said Marley at the 2022 CI Sports Awards, comparing the situation to when Guernsey last held the Games, in 2003.
‘The numbers of natural competitors back on the Island have dropped significantly and the hotels … it’s the same as in Jersey – when you are walking into St Helier, a number of the hotels have been demolished since 2015 and back home it’s exactly the same. So it’s accommodation, accommodation, accommodation. That’s the biggest issue of the Island Games.
‘We’re certainly going to struggle to host again and Jersey will struggle to host again too.’
He added: ‘You’re asking competitors to spend upwards of £1,500 now for a week and you can have a very good holiday for that much money. It’s asking a lot but luckily, all of our sportsmen and women are very committed and they keep on every two years, coughing up the money and going away and trying their hardest. We can only applaud them for that and try and build a better arena where it’s possible for them to compete.’
A total of 2,155 athletes from 23 regions descended on Jersey when the island last hosted the event in 2015.