The World Athletics Championships 2023, the biggest track and field event of the year, kicked off on Saturday, August 19, in Budapest, Hungary. However, many fans in the Caribbean region, including the British Virgin Islands and US Virgin Islands, are unable to watch the live action, as no public broadcaster in their location has secured the rights to air the event.
The World Athletics Championships feature some of the world’s best athletes, including many stars from the Caribbean, such as Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Shericka Jackson, Anthonique Strachan, Kenova Davis, Julien Alfred, Michael Joseph, and the British Virgin Islands’ own Adaejah Hodge and Kyron McMaster.
The event runs until Sunday, August 27, and will showcase 49 disciplines across nine days.
However, a number of Caribbean countries have no official broadcaster.
The table below shows the countries and broadcasters who have secured the necessary rights.
According to sources, the rights holder has not been able to find a suitable partner to distribute the event in the unlisted areas.
This means that many fans across the Caribbean have to rely on alternative ways to watch the event, such as online streaming platforms or VPN services. Unfortunately, these options may not be accessible or affordable for everyone.
The lack of broadcast rights for the World Athletics Championships 2023 reflects a broader trend of challenges facing sports broadcasting in the Caribbean. According to a recent paper by Jason Haynes, sports broadcast rights in the region are subject to complex legal and regulatory issues, such as intellectual property protection, competition law, public interest considerations and consumer rights.
Moreover, the Caribbean market is often seen as less attractive or profitable by global rights holders and broadcasters, who may prioritise larger or more lucrative regions.
The situation has left many Caribbean sports fans frustrated and disappointed, as they miss out on watching their favourite athletes and teams compete on the global stage. Some have called for more intervention and cooperation from regional bodies, including Governments, CARICOM and the CBU, to secure better deals and ensure wider access to sports broadcasting in the future.
LAST-MINUTE EFFORTS BY LOCAL AUTHORITIES
As Kyron McMaster prepared to take on the finals of the men’s 400m hurdles event, the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports announced that it would be facilitating a viewing of the race at Coconut Lounge in Pier Park.
This notice emerged within hours of the event and received a mixed reaction from the public.
While some welcomed the effort, others expressed the view that considering the knowledge, well in advance, of the local athletes’ participation in this year’s events, efforts should have been made to allow residents of the Virgin Islands to actively watch the events and cheer on the athletes.
McMaster secured a silver medal in that event.