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Sports minister backs Derby committee on banning of non-residents

Blanket support: Owen Darrell, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Owen Darrell, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, has rebutted claims made by Dennis Mbelenzi that the banning of non-residents from the Bermuda Half-Marathon Derby will have a negative impact on sports tourism.

Mbelenzi, who crossed the line first in last year’s race but was ineligible to win a prize, was hugely disappointed by the decision of the committee to prevent him from running in the race this year and suggested the new rules would harm sports tourism on the island.

However, Darrell, who was speaking at the launch of the 2024 USATF Grand Prix at Flora Duffy Stadium this morning, is quick to allay those fears.

“I don’t agree with that,” he said.

“It’s obvious that he is a great athlete. We’ve seen him run during International Race Weekend and we’ve seen his performance last year, but it is a race that the organisers put on and they choose the rules.

“The race, and Government has always said, the half-marathon race is part of Bermuda’s tradition, but it has always been the role of the race organisers. And I will put on record here that Gina Tucker and her team have for years done an excellent job of putting on the race.

“If that’s the decision that they have decided to go with, we support them.”

Darrell was also keen to point out the part that the Derby plays on May 24 and insists that the event brings out the best in Bermuda.

“It was a few years ago that a change was made to move the race back from one end of the island in one year and to the other end the next year, and everyone is always going to have their opinion on what they feel about the organisers’ decisions.

“As we know, change is always hard and traditions are always interesting things to adjust. I’m not going to share my opinion one way or another, but I do know that despite any decisions made by the race organisers, Bermuda will, on May 24, be full from start to finish, cheering on the runners and then bringing the energy into the afternoon of the Heritage Day Parade.”

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Published March 02, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated March 02, 2024 at 7:59 am)

Sports minister backs Derby committee on banning of non-residents

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