The As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tion­al Olympic Com­mit­tees (ANOC) World Beach Games is aimed at build­ing a new fron­tier for the Olympic move­ment.

Build­ing a new fron­tier isn't easy. Ob­sta­cles and set­backs are nor­mal and an­tic­i­pat­ed. The his­toric and in­au­gur­al edi­tion of the Beach Games in Qatar was de­clared open by the pres­i­dent of Qatar Olympic Com­mit­tee, HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani on Sat­ur­day.

The open­ing cer­e­mo­ny was de­scribed as im­pres­sive, last­ing for just over an hour at the Katara Am­phithe­ater in Do­ha and it show­cased tra­di­tion­al Qatari cul­ture.

The chair­man of the Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee Jas­sim Bin Rashid Al Buainain made the point that host­ing the first edi­tion of the Beach Games not on­ly brings na­tions, ath­letes and fans clos­er to­geth­er in sport nur­tur­ing cul­tur­al ex­change, un­der­stand­ing and har­mo­ny but em­pha­sised that the state of Qatar con­sid­ers sport in its var­i­ous forms, a pil­lar of its cur­rent and fu­ture sus­tain­abil­i­ty.

Over 1,200 ath­letes from 97 coun­tries are com­pet­ing in 14 dis­ci­plines at the in­au­gur­al Games which ends to­mor­row (Wednes­day). Eu­rope has the largest rep­re­sen­ta­tion with 35 coun­tries tak­ing part, 21 from Asia, 17 from Africa, five from Ocea­nia with 19 from Pan Am sports re­gion in­clu­sive of five Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tion­al Olympic Com­mit­tees (CANOC) mem­ber coun­tries. T&T missed out on qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

The mis­sion of the Beach Games is to be a sus­tain­able, glob­al mul­ti­sport event that com­bines elite youth-cen­tric beach, wa­ter and ac­tion sports. The games con­cept was launched by ANOC in 2015. It is the first youth-cen­tric beach and wa­ter sports open to all Na­tion­al Olympic Com­mit­tees. While some of the sports are on the Olympic Games' pro­gramme, the ma­jor­i­ty of the Beach Games dis­ci­plines are non-Olympic events.

The sports pro­gramme is made up of aquathlon, bas­ket­ball 3x3, beach hand­ball, beach soc­cer, beach ten­nis, beach vol­ley­ball, beach wrestling, boul­der­ing, karate in­di­vid­ual ka­ta, sail­ing/kite foil rac­ing, skate­board park, open wa­ter swim­ming 5K, wa­ter ski jump and wa­ter ski wake­board.

Cred­it must be giv­en to the de­ter­mi­na­tion and vi­sion of Sheikh Ah­mad al Fa­had al Sabah, self sus­pend­ed as ANOC pres­i­dent pend­ing res­o­lu­tion of a le­gal mat­ter un­re­lat­ed to ANOC.

I am go­ing out on a limb to pre­dict that in the com­ing years the World Beach Games will cap­ture the imag­i­na­tion and at­ten­tion of the Olympic move­ment. For ANOC, it will be­come a flag­ship spec­ta­cle and as­set, for now, the crit­ics and skep­tics are many.

For the T&T Olympic Com­mit­tee (TTOC) - an amend­ment to its con­sti­tu­tion to in­clude that the TTOC is al­so the T&T Beach and Sand Games As­so­ci­a­tion - is an ac­knowl­edge­ment that Beach and Sand Games is a key pil­lar of the fu­ture it­er­a­tion of the TTOC.

Even though two years of ef­fort to stage the in­au­gur­al TTOC Na­tion­al Beach and Sand Games is still to come to fruition, dis­cus­sions with in­ter­est­ed par­ties are on­go­ing.

In the mean­while, Spe­cial Olympics T&T (SOTT) Beach Games known as the Sea­side Games was first held in 2016 and has be­come an ea­ger­ly an­tic­i­pat­ed an­nu­al event on the lo­cal sports cal­en­dar. The fourth an­nu­al SOTT Uni­fied Beach Games will be held Sun­day at Las Cuevas Beach. Stay tuned as SOTT brave­ly goes where many with­in the glob­al Olympic move­ment fear to go.

I give cred­it to the Spe­cial Olympic Move­ment in T&T and con­grat­u­late all con­cerned (Pres­i­dent Can­dil­la Berment-Harp­er and her team). They will have ex­cit­ing news to share as they have picked up the chal­lenge of lead­ing the way for T&T to be the beach and sand games cap­i­tal of the re­gion.