28 C
City of Banjul
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

OLYMPIC COMMITTEES MUST BALANCE AUTONOMY WITH GOOD GOVERNANCE – TOP IOC OFFICIAL

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Miro cited the topical examples of The Gambia and Pakistan, two countries where the IOC are currently striving to achieve this balance. 

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A possible Pakistani suspension from the IOC was only avoided by the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) undertaking a written pledge to obey a list of demands, while a meeting has been requested between the IOC and representatives from the Gambian government and National Olympic Committee to resolve disputes. 

“For us autonomy should be respected in all the countries, as well as in all sports and Olympic organisations,” Miró, who is also responsible for Olympic Solidarity funding, told insidethegames.

“But also, it is absolutely clear that autonomy should be deserved. We speak about ‘responsible autonomy’, meaning that they have their house in order. We want to improve good governance to avoid any kind of excuse or reason for governments to intervene and act on behalf of our organisations.”

So, in relation to Pakistan, the government has accepted the principles of autonomy, respect and the Olympic Charter, Miró explained. But, on the other hand, the POA has also given a guarantee that the organisation will obey some of the principles of good governance, especially in relation to democracy, open elections and use of funds.

With relation to The Gambia, the situation is even more complex because the government, unlike the IOC, believe the last NOC elections were not conducted properly, he added.

After the simmering of tension for several years, in May the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) was barred from its headquarters at Olympic House in Bakau after it was seized by police on instruction from the Government.

This led to the NOC effectively grinding to a halt and Gambian athletes being unable to participate at the African Youth Games, held in Gabarone in May. 

“The IOC president sent a letter to the president of the country asking him to intervene in favour of the athletes,” Miró said. “The president replied, saying he had given instructions to sports and other ministries to be in contact with us, and we are now hoping a meeting will take place in Lausanne very soon. 

“As a proof of goodwill for these conversations, we also want them to inform us that next week the headquarters of the NOC will be released.”

Athletes from Pakistan are set to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from July 23 and then at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing from August 16. 

The “possibility still exists” that The Gambia will participate in Nanjing, but the IOC will have to work “very hard now” to achieve this goal.

The Gambia is no longer a member of the Commonwealth after President Jammeh announced a withdrawal last October on the grounds that his country will “never be a member of any neo-colonial institution”.

The autonomy of NOCs has been a key focus of IOC president Thomas Bach since his election last September, and earlier this year he described it as something “vital” for the future of the Olympic Movement. 

 But Miró added that problems remain because many Governments still fail to understand the concept as expressed in the Olympic Charter. “They get confused with the concept of sovereignty in a country and the national need,” he told insidethegames.  “Sovereignty is important and we respect that circumstances are different in different countries. 

“But if they want to belong to an international community, then they must obey national rules, otherwise there would be nothing to stop one country saying ‘let’s play football with 10 players on each team’ and another team saying ‘they will do so with nine'”.

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