SYDNEY, May 7, 2013 - Are the organisers of tomorrow's Cayman International athletics meeting out of their minds?
Media covering tomorrow's Cayman International athletics meet in George Town have been given strict instructions not to ask Usain Bolt questions about his recent injury or face expulsion.
And bewildered journalists have also been told not to mention Bolt's training partner Yohan Blake "in any capacity".
In an even stranger move, the organisers, in the official media guidelines, have suggested a list
of questions the media could ask the six-time Olympic gold medallist and
World record holder and other competitors at a press conference
scheduled for today (Tuesday)!
To add insult to injury, journalists and photographers have to cough up $250 to cover the event at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex.
AIPS was first alerted to the unorthodox media guidelines by member Michael Bascombe of Grenada Sports who is in George Town to cover the meet. Bascombe forwarded a copy of the media guidelines to AIPS which in bold red writing states:
"Please note, all media is to refrain from asking Usain Bolt about his
injury and why he pulled out of the Jamaica Invitational. Also, there
will be no mention of Yohan Blake in any capacity. Failure to adhere to
these rules will result in media being removed from the press conference
or event,” read the advisory from the organisers."
And as if the Bolt question ban was not enough of a laugh, the media guideline suggests the following questions for all athletes competing:
"How did you train and prepare for Cayman Invitational?
What event is next on your circuit?
Who is your biggest supporter?
Will you have an opportunity to see more of our island?
How important are your fans?
How does social media impact your sport?
How has the sport changed since you first started?
What is your biggest career highlight? Do you have a favourite motto/expression?
Do you have any advice for Cayman’s up and coming young athletes?
How important do you think a meet like the Cayman Invitational is to a small country like the Cayman Islands?"
AIPS President Gianni Merlo said the move by the organisers was "stupid and beyond credibile".
"They also want to tell the journalists what to write and what questions to ask! This is worse than some of the world's most restrictive dictatorial regimes," Merlo said.
Merlo contacted Bolt's agent Ricky Simms who said the ban on questions to the six-time Olympic gold medallist and World record holder was "completely untrue and Usain will answer all questions as usual".
"Usain has never asked for this and you know he always answers any questions," Sims told the AIPS President.
Usain Bolt withdrew from the recent Jamaican
International Invitational because of a hamstring injury.
Other top athletes set to compete in tomorrow's event are Bolt's fellow Jamaicans Hansle Parchment, Dwight Thomas, Kerron Stewart and Novlene Williams-Mills, as well as the current fastest woman in the world Carmelita Jeter of the USA.
The meet's website describes the invitational as "listed on the North American, Central America and Caribbean
Athletics Association (NACAC) calendar as an area permit meet, and is
certified by NACAC (the governing body for athletics for national and
multi-national track federations within North America, Central America
and the Caribbean) and sanctioned by the Cayman Islands Athletic
Association (CIAA), which shows the high status Cayman Invitational has
achieved already in the world of athletics.'
AIPS attempted to call the event media officer Jenna Lucas of Tower Marketing on the mobile and office numbers provided but it seems both have been disconnected. Maybe Jenna was getting sick of answering questions!
Oh to be a fly on the wall at this afternoon's press conference!