Regional security officials raise concerns about T20 showcase planning
The Trelawny Stadium during preparations for the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup.

Regional security agencies have raised concerns that they are yet to be approached by Cricket West Indies (CWI) to make preparations in time for the staging of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Men's 2024 Twenty20 (T20) World Cup scheduled to be co-hosted in June 2024 by the West Indies and the United States of America (US).

The concerns were raised by participants in attendance on day one of the 26th Caricom Standing Committee of Chiefs of Immigration and Comptrollers of Customs (CICC) Meeting at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James on Tuesday.

Speaking with reporters, Earl Harris, assistant director of the Caricom Implementation Agency for Crime and Security, headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago, said that despite successfully staging the World Cup 2007 in the region, preparations for the hosting of next year's games should get under way now.

"I would even say that we are behind the eight ball a bit because we have not yet engaged [CWI]," Harris said. "They need to start telling us what the requirements are because the ICC oftentimes mandate what you need to put in place in terms of security, venue selection, the sponsorship, the movement of the teams.

Security Minister Dr Horace Chang (second right) greets a participant at the 26th Caricom Standing Committee of Chiefs of Immigration and Comptrollers of Customs (CICC) meeting at the Montego Bay Convention Centre on Tuesday. Looking on are Earl Harris (second left), assistant director of the Caricom IMPACS, and Andrew Wynter, chief executive officer of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency.

"We just participated in a panel discussion on the T20 World Cup series that is earmarked for the region next year – I think is in June 2024. The region was successful in its bid, joined with the US, for the first time, to host the games. So the issues that arose were, 'Yes, we have the experience – about 16 years have gone, will be 17 by the time 2024 rolls around – but the planning that goes into hosting the World Cup successfully must start now!'"

Harris said that much planning goes into hosting games, including a budget.

"It will require moving the security forces across the region to beef up those territories that are hosting the games – they may not have the capacity," he said. "We have to look at our airports and seaports to see what sort of volumes we anticipate in terms of visitors and teams. Do we have the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure a seamless entry and egress to attend the games?

"So I also mentioned that where the Cricket World Cup is concerned, it needs all levels of Government included. Budgets have to be discussed, budgets have to be approved, because you have to set up special units, combining immigration, customs, law enforcement, the military, to really successfully host the games in a secure manner. So we are a year out, but the discussions have to start now so we are clear on what the requirements are and what we need to put in place to fill the gaps."

Harris says that Caricom nationals may be interested in attending the games in Miami, so the US needs to indicate "what they are doing to facilitate these requests to allow people to go to Miami to view the games".

Despite the jitters he, however, expressed confidence that the regional security agencies will be able to successfully pull it off, as was done in 2007.

"All the records are there," he said. "We have a lot more technology and use now to do all the proper security, vetting and screening. So yes, I am confident that we as a region have the capacity to do it again.

"It will work for you if you have hosted it in the past. You know what is required, but there are new players, there are new facilities. It may be a serious bidding war. So, I hope for everybody's success and more importantly, as the security agencies, we will put everything in place to ensure the success of the games," Harris said.

Meanwhile, Andrew Wynter, chief executive officer of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), noted, "As part of the agency that will be very involved in the whole movement of persons throughout the region for the cricket competition, we have a lot of preparation work to do."

"We played a very active role in 2007; we will now have to look into what else we will have to put in place to ensure that we are ready.

"We have a lot of things in place already. We have our kiosks, we have a lot of policies and procedures and some of the persons who participated in the planning of 2007 are still with us. So we will certainly be drawing on their knowledge and expertise to help us draw a plan to prepare the country for World Cup T20 in 2024, especially if Jamaica is chosen as one of the countries where matches will be played. So we will be working hard to get our preparation in place."

BY HORACE HINES Observer writer

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