A delegation from the Greek Mediterranean island cracked open the champagne yesterday afternoon on the announcement that they had beaten the Isle of Wight after a ballot by the 23 International Island Games Association members.Rhodes, believed to be clear winners of the vote (which has not been released to the media), have been planning their bid for four years and their existing bid committee have been working together for the past two years.
That the committee have the full backing of the authorities in Rhodes is no surprise, as the leader of the bid is the island’s mayor, George Gianopoulos.A delighted Mr Gianopoulos said: ‘We are very pleased with the result and we will put on a good Games – the only problem we’ll have is to keep the athletes focused – our nightlife is good!’Mr Gianopoulos added that flying to the island, which is 545 square miles with a population of 100,000, would not be a problem.
‘We have the third-biggest airport in Greece.
Only Concorde can’t land there, so charter flights will be no problem.’When asked what facilities the island lacked, he said that the athletics track was still being developed and that some artificial football pitches would be returfed and floodlights added, no doubt to avoid playing all the matches in the heat of the day.Beach weather will not be a problem for one of the new sports they intend to offer – beach volleyball.
Judo, out of the Island Games since Gibraltar in 1995, is also marked down to return, which is great news for the sport in Jersey.The IGA general meeting approved the election of Jersey’s Dr Carl Clinton to the post of honorary medical adviser, while also giving approval to the appointment of a commercial adviser to the association.Shetland are due to hold the Games in 2005 and an indication of the rugged health of the movement can be taken from the announcement that at least three islands will bid for the 2009 Games: Åland, hosts of a superb Games 1991, Baltic neighbours Saaremaa, and Ynys Mon (Anglesey).
Cayman are also believed to be possible contenders for 2009 or 2011.The Shetland Games will have 24 islands invited, as Western Isles have joined the association.
The present constitution limits the number of islands to 25.