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Jamaica Hopes for Tourism Boost From Bobsled Team at 2022 Winter Olympics

29 Jan 2022 By travelpulse

Jamaica Hopes for Tourism Boost From Bobsled Team at 2022 Winter Olympics

Jamaica's four-man bobsled team qualified for next month's Winter Olympics in Beijing earlier this month and will compete along 27 other four-man teams. The development will significantly increase interest in travel to the destination, the country's tourism stakeholders said at a press briefing Friday.

The last Jamaican four-man bobsled team to qualify for the Olympics was the 1998 team at the Nagano, Japan games. Team Jamaica will also have a skier at the Winter Olympics for the second time in its history, and for the first time in Alpine skiing.

"There are countries in the world that have many more resources than us, that have not been able to [qualify three teams]," said Chris Stokes, a member of the 1998 team and now president of the Jamaican Bobsled Federation. "This is a step in a process that sees us going into 2026 with multiple qualifications in multiple events, ultimately taking us to the podium in 2030."

As in 1993, the Jamaican bobsled team's landmark achievement will be utilized in marketing travel to the country, said Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica's Minister of Tourism. He said the original team's inspiring story has prompted millions of people to travel to Jamaica.

"Everywhere I go in the world a reference is made to 'Cool Runnings,'" Bartlett said. "It's had an amazing impact and provided an impression of Jamaica that lingers - a unique country that created a unique experience."

Bartlett said Jamaican government officials are "Putting resources together to enable entertainment and sports to be mega-pillars under which the new tourism will be predicated going forward." The Jamaica Tourist Board also launched a song written to celebrate and support Jamaica's Winter Olympics' participation.

The four-man team is composed of driver Shanwayne Stephens and push athletes Matthew Wekpe, Ashley Watson and Rolando Reid. Team Jamaica also qualified for three separate bobsled events for the first time: the four-man event, the two-man event and the new women's monobob event, for which Jazmine Fenlator-Victorian qualified. Fenlator-Victorian competed for the Jamaican woman's bobsled team at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

The 1988 Jamaican bobsled team qualified for the Olympics in Alberta, Calgary despite limitations including practice runs with a makeshift sled on a concrete track. Team members Dudley 'Tal' Stokes, Devon Harris, Michael White and Stokes became an international sensation for their determination, inspiring the 1993 Disney movie Cool Runnings.

"We don't have snow, and here we are competing with the world's best," said Olivia Grange, Jamaica's minister of ports and culture. "We are happy to be participating in the Winter Olympics."

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