The Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee and Surrey today signed an agreement which will see the Caribbean nation based in Surrey prior to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
A memorandum of understanding was signed today at Surrey Sports Park between key representatives of both parties. Antiguan cricket legend Sir Vivian Richards, former England captain and Surrey batsmen Alec Stewart OBE and Olympic 100m gold medallist Allan Wells MBE were all in attendance to mark the signing of the agreement.
The agreement will see athletes representing Antigua and Barbuda train at key multi-sport venues in the county including the University of Surrey owned Surrey Sports Park and Guildford Borough Council's Guildford Spectrum, in preparation for the London 2012 Games in just under two years time.
Sir Viv Richards, an ambassador for the Antigua and Barbuda national team, said, "Having seen Surrey Sports Park for the first time today, it's totally ideal for my country. These are amazing facilities and after seeing the welcome that we received here, the team has seen what I love about this part of the world."
Senator Chet Greene, president of the Antigua National Olympic Committee, said, "We have had overtures from a number of would-be hosts, but I'm happy to declare that Surrey is the place for us."
Lord Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee, said, "With less than two years to go until the start of the London 2012 Games, we want everyone to start planning their once in a lifetime experience, whether it is signing up for tickets or applying to be a Games Maker volunteer. The Antigua and Barbuda National Olympic Committee is clearly well advanced with its own planning with the announcement today to base the team at the superb facilities at the Surrey Sports Park and Guildford Spectrum prior to competition. I know they will be assured of the very warmest welcome in Surrey."
Councillor Terence Patrick, Deputy Mayor of Guildford and Lead Councillor for the Olympics, said, "This is great news for Guildford. Welcoming Olympic athletes to the world class facilities of Guildford Spectrum and Surrey Sports Park is not only exciting, but gives us an opportunity to forge greater relationships with the people of Antigua and Barbuda. We are looking forward to learning more about their country and culture and building a lasting partnership between our respective residents and businesses."
Jason Harborow, Surrey Sports Park Chief Executive, said, "We are very excited to have agreed to host Antigua and Barbuda here in Surrey and at Surrey Sports Park. With a proven track record of hosting elite sports men and women from around the world, we believe our facilities and accommodation will offer a world-class training environment in which their athletes can train and prepare for a successful London 2012 Games. We hope to secure further agreements with other nations in the coming months and it's great to have this agreement already in place."
Chris Snowden, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, said, "We are delighted and honoured to be hosting Antigua and Barbuda, as the first nations to confirm their plans to be based at the University's Sports Park."
Pam Alexander, Chair of the South East Partnership for the London 2012 Games, said, "It is wonderful to welcome another nation to the South East for their pre-games training. Surrey has done a fantastic job in showcasing the many assets we have here in terms of facilities and amenities for athletes travelling from abroad. Antigua and Barbuda's presence will help the area to forge greater cultural and business links with another nation."
David Hodge, Deputy Leader of Surrey County Council, said, "The county council has put in a lot of time and effort to entice Olympic nations to base their teams in Surrey during the London 2012 Games. I'm delighted Antigua and Barbuda has taken up the offer and we are also in advanced talks with a number of other nations about basing themselves here.
Outstanding facilities such as Surrey Sports Park and Guildford Spectrum have helped us sell our county as an attractive place to stay. Each Olympic and Paralympic organising committee has £25,000 to spend on their training for the Games which will benefit the local economy if they choose Surrey."