BRIEF REMARKS BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
DURING THE OPENING CEREMONY OF GOLD COAST 2018 QUEEN’S BATON RELAY IN THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
Monday, July 3, 2017
Today I welcome the presence of the Gold Coast 2018 Queen’s Baton, on behalf of my Government and people of the Virgin Islands.
I also welcome the team from Australia who journeyed to make sure that the baton is here today.
This is the fourth time we are welcoming the Queen’s baton to this place we call paradise. In 2014 it was on its way to the Glasgow games.
I am told that this is the longest relay ever, and as a British Overseas Territory, we are always pleased to participate in this global relay that travels to some 70 nations and territories of the Commonwealth, over 388 days in the lead up to the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, also referred to as the ‘Friendly Games’.
The Commonwealth promotes community pride, a value that we hold dear as a Territory.
I understand that the baton contains the message from Her Majesty the Queen to athletes competing in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia on April 4, 2018.
I do like when the baton comes to us because, as the baton is lifted high in the air, it is taking images of everything that makes us a unique and attractive destination and jurisdiction.
This, I see, as an important opportunity for us to share with the rest of the world who we are and why we are Nature’s Little Secret!
I appreciate that the Queen’s Baton Relay is youth-oriented and community-spirited and it galvanizes the support of service clubs, businesses, school clubs, community leaders and students of all ages, at all points.
I vividly remember the excitement in 2014, and I know 2017 will be no different.
The BVI is home to a number of young, future Olympians and established sportsmen and women.
In their respective sports, they have done the Territory well, and we are delighted to have them represented in the Baton Relay, that will go throughout the Territory.
Many of the baton bearers will therefore be familiar faces of some of our young upcoming leaders in the community, as we present the best of what the Territory has to offer.
I take this time to congratulate the eight young athletes who will be attending the Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games from July 18-23. Arianna, Rackeel, Joshua, Mikkel, Beyonce, Djimon, Diamante, and Adrian, as you run with the baton, let this occasion and the support of those who will run with you, give you even more motivation as you prepare to represent us well in long jump, javelin, shot put, discus, tennis, 100, 200 and 400 metres.
Ladies and gentlemen, as the Virgin Islands takes center stage on the global spotlight for the next few days with the Queen’s baton capturing activities on Tortola, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, I strongly encourage everyone to run with the baton bearers as they run and sail through the various communities.
Let us do this as ‘One BVI’ in a spirit of unity and friendship, and in a mass cultural display of Virgin Islands Pride.
I must commend the lead coordinators, the BVI Olympic Committee, the BVI Commonwealth Games Association, and all of the private and public sector organisations who have partnered with them to showcase the exquisite art, unique culture, world class sportsmanship and breath-taking sceneries of the Virgin Islands.
Today we begin the BVI leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay; may all baton bearers run with pride. Keep the baton high.
We all will long remember this moment and how it felt to be an ambassador holding the Queen’s Baton, or tagging alongside a baton bearer.
I know that when Her Majesty the Queen reads her message to the world next year, we all will be able to confidently say, the Baton was here. I was there to share the dream and it felt good.
Let it capture all that the Virgin Islands represent, and show the world we have qualities that can never be denied.