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18
Sun, Aug

- TEAM TTO THRIVE - 

Statute proposals were debated in full today ©ITG

Latest Olympic News

Voting power of large nations within the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) was reduced at the body's Extraordinary General Assembly here today, while a controversial proposal to drastically decrease the number of people eligible to stand for the Presidency was abandoned.

This came on a laborious day of discussions, stretching almost 11 hours from start to finish, to approve the new PASO constitution as the organisation continues its re-alignment following the death of long-time President Mario Vázquez Raña at the beginning of last year.

All 41 PASO members will have one vote in the election of host cities and all Executive Committee positions, it was decided, while the 10 nations who have hosted the Pan American Games will each receive one additional vote.

This differs from the current system in operation since 2010 in which a country has had an extra vote, up to a maximum of five, for each time they have hosted the Games.

Today's decision effectively reverts to the system in place before then.

This proposal was not initially circulated to members, however, but was successfully proposed as an amendment by Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB) President Carlos Nuzman - despite fierce opposition from the Caribbean bloc.

More radical proposals to adopt either a strict one-member-one-vote system or a second vote for Pan American Games hosts only in the selection of host cities had been initially proposed, but were each rejected.

Also turned down was the measure to introduce a rule stipulating that candidates for the position of President of PASO must have "at least three years of experience immediately preceding their nomination as a President, vice-president or secretary general of their respective NOCs or must be the incumbent President of PASO at the time of being nominated and elected".

If passed, this would have meant that two likely contenders for the PASO Presidency - Dominican Republic's José Joaquín Puello and St Lucia’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Richard Peterkin - would have been ineligible, despite both being longstanding former Presidents of their respective NOCs.

Thirty-four voters supported a measure to remove the four words "immediately preceding their nomination", meaning that the likes of both Puello and Peterkin would both become eligible once again.

The same wording was also removed from a similar motion for all other Executive Committee positions, although NOC treasurers will still be allowed to run for the position of PASO treasurer.

A President will only be able to serve a maximum of three four-year terms in the position, it was also approved today, although no such term limits on other Executive Committee positions were put forward.

There will also continue to be no maximum age limits on any positions.

Julio Maglione, the Uruguayan Olympic Committee head who is interim President of PASO, chaired today's meeting with support from Canada's Michael Chambers, the Legislative Committee chair responsible for drawing up the constitution.

The election to choose a new President, for which a date has not yet been set, was the elephant in the room today, with political implications affecting virtually every proposal.

This was particularly so when the candidature limitations were discussed, with Dominican Republic Olympic Committee President Luis Mejia Oviedo and then Peterkin himself each giving passionate interjections.

"It is like saying only the sons of nobility or those who living in Europe can become an IOC member," claimed Oviedo.

"This clause would not send the correct signals - we shouldn’t pass an article which is evidently discriminating."

Peterkin, in turn, highlighted how the only obligation to become President of United States is being over the age of 40 and a natural born US citizen.

Speaking only theoretically rather than on the upcoming election, the St Lucian, a former PASO treasurer, claimed we "need to trust our members to make the right decision" rather than introduce demeaning constitutional restrictions.

Many believed the measure had only been introduced to block the candidacies of Puello and Peterkin, although some claimed that those not involved over the last three years would not have the necessary grasp of current affairs.

Noone spoke in support of the measure, with Maglione himself then saying he was "totally in agreement" with the speakers and that three years would not make a difference.

There had earlier been less harmony over the voting distribution proposal.

Mexican Olympic Committee President Carlos Padilla spoke first, calling for Pan American Games hosts to be rewarded, before Nuzman agreed and suggested his compromise "option three", although there was confusion at first as it was wrongly translated into English.

Delegates from other countries - including Argentina, Colombia and Paraguay - spoke in support before those from the Caribbean hit back.

Both the COB President and the President of Brazil [Dilma Rousseff] spoke yesterday about us being a unified family," said Keith Joseph, general secretary of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee and, like Nuzman, a PASO Presidential contender.

"So how can we contemplate weighted voting, giving an advantage to some over others?

"We are saying to our youth and our athletes that we don’t trust each other enough.

"Let us do what is right, not for ourselves, but for future generations in this Americas of ours.”

St Kitts and Nevis Olympic Committee President Alphonso Bridgewater indirectly accused Nuzman and his South American allies of launching a coup d'état.

Maglione interjected to call lunch - with howls of Caribbean protest ending in a successful vote for the adjournment - before fierce debate continued thereafter.

Chambers, despite much opposition from lawyers within the Caribbean ranks, ruled that they could vote on "option three" despite it not being in the initial proposals as the amendment was "within the spirit of the motion proposed".

The one-member-one-vote motion failed with 31 opposed, while the two votes for Pan American Games hosts just for host city elections option fell just short of the necessary two-thirds majority, with 21 supporters.

Twenty-six then voted in favour in a simple majority decision to press ahead with option three.

The Caribbean, not wanting to return to the old system, than changed tactics to support, and the Nuzman motion thus passed with 38 supporters.

There were two no-votes while the remaining one ballot paper was spoilt with "a statement of opposition to the process".

Although bitter at times, the day did mark a new era of open democratic discussion within PASO as opposed to the one-man autonomy of the Vázquez Raña years.

"I am very happy, this marks the start of a new era," said Maglione afterwards.

The constitution will now be studied by the IOC before being approved in their final form at a meeting at some stage later this year.

Source

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