Alvarez is confident venues will be ready

GIBRALTAR 2019 chief Linda Alvarez says organisers and contractors are making steady progress on plans for the second ‘Sunshine Games’, with the countdown clock now below 100 days.

Gibraltar 2019 officials said last week that the Europa Sports Complex, which will stage badminton and squash, is 65% complete. (24260935)
Gibraltar 2019 officials said last week that the Europa Sports Complex, which will stage badminton and squash, is 65% complete. (24260935)

Following a multimillion-pound cash injection ahead of this summer’s NatWest Island Games, athletes from seven out of 14 sports are set to compete on brand new or upgraded facilities on the British Overseas Territory, which is hosting the event for first time since 1995.

The new venues have yet to be completed, but organising committee chair Alvarez has been offered assurances.

Competitors in athletics, badminton, beach volleyball, shooting, squash, swimming and tenpin bowling will battle for medals at new facilities around the 2.6sq. mile region from 6-12 July.

‘The clay and the rifle ranges are due to be finished in April and all the others are due to be finished end of May, beginning of June,’ Alvarez explained, during a visit to Jersey this week.

‘It’s a bit tight, but we’ve been told it’s going to be completed.

‘We’ll have six new sporting venues, plus a total refurbishment of the tenpin bowling alleys.

‘The Lathbury Sports Complex is where the new athletics track and swimming pool are being built and there’s also the Europa Stadium – a new indoor facility for badminton and squash.

‘On one of the beaches we also have two new beach volleyball courts.

‘The new builds were started because we had to build a new stadium after selling Victoria Stadium to the Gibraltar FA. The money from that, and other investments for the Games, have given us the impetus to build the new venues and it’s all coming together quite well.

‘Victoria Stadium will only be used for the opening ceremony on the Saturday, and it’ll be an interesting turnaround because we’ve got a Uefa football match taking place there on the Thursday [Gibraltar v Georgia, European Championship qualifier].’

Alvarez admitted that huge focus is being placed on the nation’s international footballers, but officials are continuing to promote the Games to Gibraltar’s 30,000-strong community.

‘Because Gibraltar is so small people do know about the Games, but at the moment the buzz is all around football,’ she said.

‘That’s our main sport and a lot of people were disappointed when we couldn’t put it on our Games programme, but it’s impossible with only one pitch.

‘We’ve been getting out into schools and running an education programme and we’re working heavily on a sustainability policy.

‘We’re going single use plastic-free and our Games fountain is being made from recycled materials and hopefully the Island Games committee will adopt this policy for the future.’

Gibraltar was awarded the Games only in 2015 after Menorca was forced to hand back hosting rights due to financial concerns.

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