The territorial song of the British Virgin Islands will now be played at all future events organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), including the 2021 Olympic Games.
The BVI Olympic Committee (BVIOC) confirmed in a media release dated Thursday, May 28 that the IOC had approved their request to have ‘Oh, Beautiful Virgin Islands’ played instead of the National Anthem, ‘God Save the Queen’.
The song will be played whenever a local athletes wins gold in their respective disciplines and on all occasions where the National Anthem would have been played, including opening and closing ceremonies, flag raising events etc. and not just when an athlete wins a gold medal.
President of the BVIOC Ephraim Penn said his committee was extremely proud of this achievement for all athletes, coaches, parents, supporters and persons from the British Virgin Islands.
“The motivation and emotion that is tied up in representing your country at a major competition can’t be underestimated. Hearing your national song playing as you enter an arena or when you stand on the podium enhances the sense of achievement and pride and underscores all the sacrifices, time and effort that athletes, teams and their support base put in to qualify and compete,” Penn stated.
Process started in 2018
Penn began the process of seeking approval for the territorial song in 2018 after former Sports Minister Myron Walwyn made the appeal following the historic gold medal performance by Kyron McMaster at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.
After the February 2019 General Elections in the BVI, the current Minister for Sports Dr Natalio Wheatley encouraged and followed the initiative closely and ensured that the BVIOC secured the support required from government to initiate the official request to have the BVIOC authorised to use the territorial song.
Huge achievement for the BVI
Speaking to our media centre following the announcement, Dr Wheatley said the achievement was a huge one for the BVI.
“It speaks to our pride as a people, our individual identity. Previously, ‘God Save the Queen’ would play when we won a medal at international meets. Now, the Territorial song will play, which contributes to our national pride.”
Steps in BVI’s development as an autonomous group
The Sports Minister further said that having the territorial song played is a huge step in the BVI’s development as an autonomous group.
“In the Virgin Islands we have constantly been seeking greater autonomy. This year makes 70 years since the legislature was restored. Since that point, we have made incremental steps towards self-determination, and this continues until this day,” Dr Wheatley added.
The Minister thanked Alton Bertie for his arrangement and production of the 80-second, orchestral version of the territorial song which will be played at all future IOC events.
The territorial song was originally composed in 2012 by siblings Ayana Hull and Kareem Nelson-Hull and arranged by Howard John.