Let me thank everyone who contributed to making the Salute to our Rio Ambassadors such a resounding success. The feedback received indicates that our Olympic and Paralympic teams appreciated the celebratory events and the monetary awards, which represent mere tokens of the appreciation of a proud and grateful nation.
We do not resile from our decision to celebrate our Olympic and Paralympic heroes in the ways that we have or to award them in the amounts that we have. Our athletes promote our country in many positive and immeasurable ways and already we are seeing new business linked to their performances in Rio. It was right to thank them and to encourage them towards even higher levels of performance.
As the Minister responsible for the programme of celebration and awards, I have oversight for the planning of the Salute. Overall, I believe the planning and execution were well done. Indeed, our usual service level agreements with entertainers (over the content of their performances) and with technicians (over the standard of service required) for the most part, worked well throughout the celebratory period. In putting together the programmes consultations were held with a wide range of stakeholders, we sought to be inclusive – including trying to achieve some gender equity, and we sought to balance many factors, including currency and appropriateness.
However, I accept that there were aspects that fell short of my own standards developed and honed over my many years of public service, as well as, my direct involvement in the entertainment sector at many different levels. In particular, there were some failings at Saturday’s event which have overshadowed what was otherwise seen as a well-produced event.
As the Minister, I express sincerest regrets for these shortcomings and going forward, to ensure the highest levels of planning and execution of these national events, I have asked for a review of our procedures and agreements and a review team is being put in place.
I have already given instructions for increased focus on access to people with health conditions or impairments at all national events organised by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.
I recognize dancehall as an important Jamaican music genre. In that regard, I note some of the comments directed at Spice for her performance on Saturday night. I do not offer a defence for Spice who is a talented and bright performer, fully capable of producing lyrics in celebration of our athletic heroes. I would however, caution against the issue of vitriolic comment and a rush to judgement in this matter.
Most things went well but a few very important things did not on this occasion. Like our athletes we will review, improve and keep pushing ourselves to higher levels of performance.
The Ministry will now turn its attention to the implementation of the legacy projects which we will be executed in the medium term, including the commissioning of statues to be placed in the National Stadium - Statue Park as a part of a wider planned development of the Stadium complex, which of course includes the National Sport Museum.