The Bahamas can set a milestone for other countries to follow when it hosts the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, according to the BOC secretary general ©TTOC

The Bahamas can “set a milestone” for other countries to follow when it stages the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) secretary general Romell Knowles has claimed.

The country was confirmed as the host nation of the event at the Commonwealth Games Federation’s Executive Board meeting in Gibraltar in January.

They were the only bidder following the withdrawal of the original hosts St. Lucia last September, who pulled out because of fears they would not be ready in time.

The Bahamas, a chain of 700 islands covering just 13,939 kilometres of land scattered over 3,884 square km of clear tropical sea, will be the first Caribbean host of a Commonwealth Games event since Kingston in Jamaica staged the main edition in 1966.

A total of seven sports are due to be contested at the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, with capital Nassau selected as the main hub.

Athletics, boxing, judo, road cycling, rugby sevens and swimming could be joined by beach soccer, a sport which has never been on the programme at a Commonwealth Games.

Knowles revealed discussions remain ongoing about staging beach soccer at the 2017 event and that they have “reached out to their own federations who have all indicated their excitement about being part of the Games".

The BOC secretary general also insists preparations are going smoothly ahead of the Games, which are scheduled to be held from July 19 to 23.

He remains confident that all 71 Commonwealth countries and territories will be represented during next year’s event.

A total of 63 countries competed at the last edition of the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoan capital Apia in September of last year.

Among those missing was the Bahamas, who stayed away because of fears over Ebola. 

The Bahamas was confirmed as hosts of the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games at a CGF Executive Board meeting in Gibraltar in January
The Bahamas was confirmed as hosts of the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games at a CGF Executive Board meeting in Gibraltar in January ©The Commonwealth

“In the coming weeks we will make an official report on our progress and 41 countries have already expressed interest and we suspect that we will have, if not all 71 Commonwealth countries, close to 71 countries competing,” Knowles told the Nassau Guardian.

“We’re still planning and we’re in discussions of having beach soccer implemented into the Games for the first time.

“The discussions are preliminary but remain ongoing.”

The 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games are set to be the biggest multi-sport event ever to be held in the Caribbean nation.

The Bahamas has, however, staged the 2014 and 2015 editions of the International Association of Athletics Federations World Relays, an event whose competitors included Jamaica's six-time Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt.

“We’re energised to ensure the experience at these Games is second to none,” added Knowles.

“We look to set some milestones for other countries that look to hold the Youth Games.

“I can safely say that everything is going well and publicly I want to thank Prime Minister Perry Christie, because if it weren’t for his support, we wouldn’t be in this position.”