Bahamas 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games Organising Committee chairman Wellington Miller has given reassurances that the Caribbean nation will be able to stage next year’s event after admitting construction at some venues was delayed following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew.
The Bahamas was severely affected by the hurricane, which struck in October, as the nation sustained more than $600 million (£480 million/€576 million) worth of damage.
Grand Bahama, the northernmost island in The Bahamas and closest to the United States, was one of the worst-hit areas, along with Eight Mile Rock and Holmes Rock.
Recovery efforts by the Government in the wake of the hurricane, the first category five storm in the region since Hurricane Felix in 2007, prompted late funding of the operational personnel for the Commonwealth Youth Games.
The Queen Elizabeth Sports Complex in Nassau, due to be the centrepiece of the Youth Games, was hit by "minimal damage", while construction work has begun on the rugby field which is set to be used for the event.
Renovations at the Kendal G. L. Isaacs Gymnasium, due to stage judo, have also started.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) Review Committee recently conducted a three-day visit to inspect preparations but they claim to be pleased with progress despite the damage caused by the hurricane.
Rachel Simon, who is responsible for the Commonwealth Youth Games at the CGF, and sport services manager Ann-Louise Morgan, joined members of the Review Committee, such as Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee President Brian Lewis, for the visit.
"We were delighted to welcome the Review Committee and CGF personalities to The Bahamas," Miller said.
"These Games are not only important to The Bahamas but to the Caribbean region as we are one people.
"The strategic feedback was very constructive and forward thinking as we get set to host a most exciting Games in 2017.
"Notwithstanding a few delays, I wish to reassure my brothers and sisters in the Commonwealth that the Games are on and we look forward to further collaboration with the Review Committee and the CGF as we get set to welcome each of you to our shores and to experience our rich and diverse culture."
CGF President Louise Martin said that the Organising Committee’s plans were "gathering pace" but warned there was no time to waste, with the event due to run from July 18 to 23.
"The Commonwealth Youth Games are such an important opportunity for the Commonwealth’s finest young athletes to come together on the level playing field of sport," Martin said.
"With new sports and world class venues, the Bahamas 2017 edition is shaping up to be a thrilling sporting showcase, and the largest Youth Games in history.
"We’re hugely appreciative of the support, commitment and expertise of the local organising team in the Bahamas and the wider Youth Games Review Committee, and we’re encouraged that plans are picking up pace as the calendar turns to 2017.
"There’s no time to waste as we work together to deliver an inspiring Caribbean carnival of sport and culture in seven months’ time.”
The event will be the first multi-sports competition to be held in the Caribbean nation, with around 1,300 athletes expected to compete for 94 medals.
Athletics, swimming, rugby sevens, road cycling, judo, boxing, tennis and beach soccer have all been confirmed on the programme, while beach volleyball will be included for the first time.