Inter-Guiana Games make grand return after five years

The annual Inter-Guiana Games (IGG) have made a return as a magnetic force for unity, collaboration, and cooperation, following a five-year hiatus.

The 51st iteration of the Games is being hosted in Guyana over three days, November 25 to 27.

The IGG will see Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana vying for the top spots across nine disciplines, for the first time.

A grand ceremony held at the Guyana National Stadium in Providence, on Thursday evening saw a cultural display to welcome the contingent of some 430 participants.

Guyana’s contingent of athletes and officials

Of these, 67 hail from French Guiana, 172 from Suriname, and 197 are Guyanese.

They will compete in track and field, swimming, football (females only), cycling (males only), tennis, table tennis, badminton, volleyball and basketball.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, Charles Ramson Jr., said the IGG and the style of hosting— a grand opening ceremony that precedes the athletic events, and a march past of competitors— give Guyanese a taste of what it’s like to participate in international games, while still being on their home turf.

He also encouraged youths to envision themselves participating at a larger level, and work towards achieving that goal.

“This presentation that you are seeing may be small when you compare it to the Commonwealth Games, I know we’re small compared to that. But we’re already starting to think much bigger about where we want you to go. And for you to get there, all of you need to start seeing yourself there,” he said.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Hon. Charles Ramson at the opening of the Inter-Guiana Games 2022

The minister expressed too that the relaunching of the IGG in a new format repositions Guyana as a mecca for sporting and cultural activities, and maintained that the games play a critical role in the development of youth, as they foster good sportsmanship, and help participants to build new connections.

Similar sentiments were expressed by French Guiana Territorial Councillor, Mirta Tani, and Suriname Minister of Regional Development and Sport, Gracia Emanuel.

Suriname’s contingent of athletes and officials

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, in his inauguration of the games, paralleled sport with development, as competition fosters human-to-human contact, bringing people and countries together, thus paving the way for intensified cooperation.

He also noted the importance of sports in teaching players and followers a sense of team building, mutual respect and discipline, among other character-building traits.

“Sport is a vehicle which provides hope that the most daunting of challenges can be overcome. It inspires as much as it unifies. The re-launch of the Inter-Guiana Games strengthens the excellent relations between our three participating countries located on the northern arc of South America. The return of the Games signals the commitment of the participating countries to ensure that the Games become a regular staple of fraternal friendship,” he said.

Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips at the opening of the Games on Thursday evening

Earlier this year, Minister Ramson had expressed the government’s vision of continuing to host and expand the IGG, to see other Caribbean and South American countries being invited to be part of the event, eventually growing to include over 10 disciplines, and becoming the largest sports tournament for the region.

It is yet another part of the government’s transformational plan to encompass and develop all sectors and create a better future not just for youths, but for all Guyanese. Suriname Ambassador to Guyana, Liselle Blankendal, along with Guyanese Ambassador to Suriname, Virjanand Depoo, Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC) Kashif Muhammad, and Director of Sport, Steve Ninvalle were also in attendance.

French Guiana’s contingent of athletes and officials