Shetland’s 45-strong island games team will get a £5,000 council grant towards the cost of travelling to Bermuda for this summer’s competition.
A plea from councillor Allison Duncan to raise the grant to £8,060 was rejected by four votes to two at Friday’s social services committee meeting.
The sum granted is far below the level paid in more plentiful times. Waxing lyrical about the games’ benefits to Shetland, Mr Duncan had argued at considerable length for an extra £3,060 to be pledged.
“It is, to me, the Olympics of the islands, and it must be the highlight [of athletes’ sporting lives] to represent Shetland,” he said.
But political leader Gary Robinson said that 12 months ago the island games association had been told plainly that finances were “in such a parlous state that, if they planned on getting nothing”, any grant would be “a bonus”.
“We do need to pay tribute to all the organisers and competitors that have put a huge amount of fund-raising effort into this,” Mr Robinson acknowledged. “I understand there is a bit of a deficit in funding [but it’s] not one that can’t be overcome with their own efforts.”
Councillor Allan Wishart agreed, saying “how this is interpreted throughout Shetland” was important given the climate of massive cuts in public spending.
Shetland will be competing in eight of the 14 sports to be held across 15 venues in Bermuda between 13th and 19th July. As of last month, more than 2,000 participants had registered to attend the event.