Caribbean on a high as World Cup looms

Stabroek News
February 28, 2007

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The Caribbean is bustling with action, one week before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 bowls off with its warm-up.

As the region prepares for an influx of visitors, including teams, match officials, sponsors, media and fans, there is a noticeable buzz throughout the nine host Venues - an air of anticipation.

Over the coming days, thousands of Caribbean spectators are expected to descend on CWC Ticket Centres to collect match tickets bought in the first two phases of Public Ticketing while many others have been rushing to secure last-minute purchases. CWC headquarters in Jamaica and the Local Organising Committees (LOCs) are being bombarded daily with calls regarding how people can get tickets.

"The Cricket World Cup fever has caught on and people want to be a part of it. This is the most significant undertaking which the Caribbean has ever been engaged in and it will be huge," declared ICC CWC 2007 Managing Director & CEO, Chris Dehring.

Additionally, all 16 participating nations - the most ever vying for the coveted title - will be in the Caribbean by Friday ahead of next Monday's start of Warm-up fixtures in Barbados (3 Ws Oval), Jamaica (Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium), St. Vincent & the Grenadines (Arnos Vale Stadium) and Trinidad & Tobago (UWI SPEC). Bangladesh, Bermuda and Canada are already locked in a practice tournament in Antigua & Barbuda while Scotland touches down in the Caribbean this afternoon. The remaining teams arrive between March 1 and 2. Infrastructural preparations, such as road works and airport refurbishment, gather increasing pace in many territories as the region gets ready to welcome the world. Applications continue to pour in from across the globe for CARICOM Special Visas which will allow visitors to traverse the host venues and Dominica as if they were a single entity. Last week, Barbados's Deputy Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, disclosed that more than 15,800 persons have already been granted visas for the three-and-a-half months that the Single Domestic Space (SDS) is in effect.

Mottley, who chairs CARICOM's Sub Committee responsible for security for ICC CWC 2007, disclosed that, having overcome some initial challenges with the implementation of the SDS on February 1, CARICOM is moving towards the "full removal of passport examinations".

"I am happy to report that since last Thursday (February 15), we have been removing passport checks for persons travelling within the Single Domestic Space," she told the media last Friday at a press conference.

She also stated that the processing of visas at CARICOM offices in Beijing, Berlin, Brussels, Caracas, Geneva, London Miami, New Delhi, New York, Sydney and Toronto is progressing smoothly.