Foreign Affairs Minister Abdulla Shahid and Youth, Sports and Community Development Minister Ahmed Mahloof have succeeded in securing the support of the president of the Seychelles for the Maldives’ bid to host the Indian Ocean Island Games in 2023.
Mahloof thanked Danny Faure for his support and tweeted that he is looking forward to closer collaboration between the two countries in the youth and sports sector.
As the special envoy of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, Shahid, accompanied by Mahloof, met Faure on Monday morning at the presidential residence, the State House, in the capital, Victoria.
Shahid presented a letter from the president and extended Solih’s well wishes.
“As two small island states, we face similar challenges and opportunities. Our two countries should engage in frequent dialogues with the aim of uncovering new avenues for cooperation,” Faure said.
Shahid and Mahloof departed for the Seychelles on Sunday. They will next visit Mauritius and the Comoros. Madagascar and Comoros are also interested in hosting IOIG 2023.
Before leaving, the foreign minister tweeted: “IOIG is special for us; it’s the first major sports event [at which the] Maldives won a medal in 1979.”
The IOIG is for athletes from the Indian Ocean island nations. It was established by the International Olympic Committee in 1977 and has been held every four years since.
At a press conference on Friday, Mahloof said it would benefit the Maldives enormously if it hosted the games.
“If IOIG to be held here, we will develop our sports facilities accordingly by 2023,” he said.
Mahloof said he is grateful to have the full support of the government and especially Solih, whom he said is personally overseeing the bidding process.
On Thursday, a delegation from the IOIG council met with vice president Faisal Naseem, who assured the visitors that the current administration would give its full support to developing sports and empowering youth in the Maldives.
President of the IOIG council, Antonio Gopal, said they had inspected the country’s sports facilities and were impressed by the enthusiasm and level of preparation shown by the Maldives to host the games.
Mahloof said: “[The] Maldives is very committed. We’re ready to host the IOIG 2023 and that it would be the best ever IOIG to be held.”
Mahloof told the media that certain areas of Malé and Hulhumalé had been identified for sports infrastructure for the games.
“We are very much prepared, so I have no doubt we will win the bid,” Mahloof added.
The winner of the bid to host of IOIG 2023 will be announced towards the end of IOIG 2019 taking place at the end of this month in Mauritius.