International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has addressed a letter to President François Hollande and to the French people, to express his "shock and grief" regarding the Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters attack in Paris.

Gunmen shot dead 12 people at the Paris office of French satirical magazine in the capital yesterday, with the editor and three leading cartoonists among those killed..

In the letter, President Bach denounced the attack stating that "such barbaric acts are an attack on the values of all civilised people from whatever country, religion or creed".

Bach shares a close relationship with the French President and met with Hollande in November 2013 to discuss a potential bid from Paris, for the 2024 Olympics, before another meeting late last year during the 15th Summit of French-speaking nations in Dakar.

"Let me assure you that the entire Olympic Movement, just as all right-thinking people, stand shoulder to shoulder with you and France today," the letter continued.

"This was a shocking, brutal attack not just on France but on the values for which we all stand, and the values on which the Olympic Movement is also built.

"Those guns were aimed not just at journalists but at freedom of speech and the values for which France stands so strongly.

"These terrorist atrocities will only serve to unite the people of France to stand together against such mindless violence and we in the Olympic Movement stand side by side with you and with France in solidarity."

Bach's letter and support for France, in light of the attack, continues to highlight his belief that the IOC has a wider role to play in the political landscape and should use sport to help promote peace and wider development.


Boston will be the United States candidate in the race to host the 2024 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, it has been announced today.

The decision was made by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) at its Board meeting in Denver and saw the East coast city see off opposition from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C.

It is considered a major shock, as either one of the Californian cities was considered the favourite, but came after an unanimous decision by all 15 USOC Board members.

"We're excited about our plans to submit a bid for the 2024 Games and feel we have an incredibly strong partner in Boston that will work with us to present a compelling bid," said USOC chairman Larry Probst, in a statement.

"We're grateful to the leaders in each of the four cities for their partnership and interest in hosting the most exciting sports competition on earth.

"The deliberative and collaborative process that we put in place for selecting a city has resulted in a strong US bid that can truly serve the athletes and the Olympic and Paralympic movements."

The Boston bid has been financed by a group of wealthy Massachusetts business people, including Stephen Pagliuca, the managing director of Bain Capital and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, with many other prominent figures in the city having offered their support.

But the successful effort was not without opposition, with a group called "No Boston Olympics", claiming the Games would be costly for taxpayers, and insisting that a decision of this nature should not be made behind closed doors without a referendum.

A most recent survey by the Boston Globe found 47 per cent in favour of the bid and 43 per cent against.

"It is an exceptional honour for Boston to be chosen as US representative in the running for the 2024 Olympics," said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

"This selection is in recognition of our city's talent, diversity and global leadership.

"Our goal is to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games that are innovative, walkable and hospitable to all, Boston hopes to welcome the world's greatest athletes to one of the world's great cities."

In a sign of the times as far as Olympic bidding is concerned, Boston's compact bid leans heavily on existing venues, such as the TD Garden Arena, and college facilities, including Harvard Stadium, Boston College's Conte Forum and Boston University's Agganis Arena.

A removable Olympic stadium at Widett Circle, along Interstate 93 near Frontage Roadin the south of the city, is envisaged, with Opening and Closing Ceremonies, as well as athletics events, to take place there.

Aside from major teams in US sport -  including the Boston Red Sox baseball team, the Boston Celtics basketball side, and American Football's New England Patriots - Boston is best known in a sporting sense for the annual Boston Marathon, the world's oldest annual marathon.

The Olympic bid will be particularly symbolic following the tragedy experienced during the 2013 edition of the race, when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the race, killing three people and injuring an estimated 264 others

The city also hosted the World Cross Country Championships in 1992 when future marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe won the junior women's race.

New York City and Chicago bid unsuccessfully for the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, events awarded to London and Rio de Janeiro respectively.

Rome is the only city to have officially declared so far it will bid for the 2024 Olympics but Germany is expected to put forward either Berlin or Hamburg.

Baku, Budapest Istanbul and Paris could be other European bidders, while Doha and either Pretoria or Gauteng Province in South Africa are other potential contenders.

The deadline for confirming bids is September 15 next year but a special invitation phase for the 2024 Olympic bid process will start on January 15, with the IOC keen to provide more consultation with cities in order to generate more popular support.

The USOC are due to reveal more details about their decision at a press conference at the : Boston Convention and Exhibition Center tomorrow at 8.30am Eastern Time.


There hasn't been a week like this in sports politics, not for a long time.

To summarise:

The third son of a deceased Middle Eastern monarch announced he would run against a long-entrenched West European incumbent for the Presidency of the world's most powerful single-sport federation.

Much of this Arab prince's support is expected to come from Western Europe; leading sports power brokers in the Arab world have, meanwhile, pronounced in favour of his European opponent.

It was suggested that two countries which are still technically at war might co-host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The suggestion was quickly rebuffed, but it raised a faint echo of the at times farcical negotiations involving the same two ideologically-divided countries, North and South Korea, in the run-up to South Korea's first Olympics in 1988.

The world's only superpower announced the city that will bid to stage the planet's pre-eminent multi-sports event nine years from now.

Against expectations, it chose sports-crazy Boston - a city where less than two years ago, three people were killed and more than 200 injured by bomb explosions near the finish-line of the world's oldest annual marathon.

Overshadowing everything else of course was the shooting atrocity that left 10 journalists/cartoonists and two police officers dead in the city that is likely to be one of Boston's chief rivals in the race for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

It would be wrong to draw too many conclusions before more is known about the perpetrators and their motives, but the message for believers in freedom of expression was utterly chilling.

I was glad that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach saw fit to issue a statement laced with emotion.

Though often criticised, the IOC has done its bit for press freedom in more illiberal corners of the world over the years.

More to the point, the Games's very ethos as an event where the world gathers, competes under agreed ground-rules and - most importantly - lives under the same roof for a few magical days/weeks acts as a powerful antidote to the ignorance on which bigots and fascists feed.

If there is a Paris bid, Charlie Hebdo would have - will still no doubt lampoon any trace of extravagance or pomposity with unbridled glee.

But intelligent, clear-headed criticism - however uncomfortable for individuals – is, of course, a vital component in keeping institutions grounded and moving in the right direction.

If there is a memorial service, or other secular official event, for those murdered, the IOC should be represented - I would argue by the chair of its Press Commission, who just happens to be the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

Only last week I asserted that France needed something to jolt it out of the morosity into which it had fallen and speculated whether a Summer Olympic bid could provide the electricity to flick the switch.

Well in the grimmest, most despicable way, the Charlie Hebdo gunmen seem to have stirred a deep-held, you might say instinctive, sense of human solidarity, potentially far more powerful than the displays of national solidarity that followed France's World Cup victory in 1998.

The scenes in Place de la République show very movingly that, when it really matters, the French capital can still summon a potent, quick flaring, spirit of community.

Provided - and this is critical - that the urge to identify and chastise scapegoats can be resisted, the defiant togetherness unleashed by Wednesday's hideous events could provide a real national lift.

It should also give all of us pause for thought about matters of security in a world in which relatively soft targets, such as high-profile road races and satirical magazines, are apt to come under attack.

As experts told me after the Boston bombings, but as common sense would also attest, 100 per cent security is simply not possible.

Our best bet for long-term safety, that being the case, while remaining vigilant and protecting flagship institutions and events with all resources we can muster, comes not from consenting to ever more state snooping or encroachments on the very civil liberties that set liberal societies apart from repressive ones, but from safety in numbers.

If the bombers and gunmen can see that when they do strike, opposition to what they stand for is reinvigorated and multiplied, then eventually, if they are rational, they and those who control/incite them will devise new strategies.

That's what Je suis Charlie means.


National boxing coaches, Reynold Cox and Floyd Trumpet, are intent on qualifying newly promoted senior athlete Michael Alexander to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Dubbed as one of the most successful junior boxers for 2014, Alexander captured bronze at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, and bagged another at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in Veracruz, Mexico.

Although still nursing a shoulder injury from his recent CAC stint, Alexander is hoping to be fully recovered by March as he winds down preparations ahead of three tough Olympic qualifiers.

Speaking to coach Cox, he admitted that 2015 is indeed a big year for the young pugilist.

“We definitely want to see if we can get Michael Alexander to qualify (for the 2016 Olympics),” said Cox. “His first qualifier is the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Championships (October 5-18) this year. Then there will be two other qualifiers in 2016, one in the Americas and a universal tourney as the final decider.”

Having now entered the top-flight senior division, Alexander anticipates some challenging times ahead. Cox and Trumpet are presently building their athlete towards Olympic qualification with the former pleased with his competitive prowess on both the local and international circuit thus far.

“I think it was a good year (2014) for him because we set out to get him on the podium. We did so a couple times and that was a good step for us. Michael Alexander is knocking on the door and if he maintains what he is doing right now we can see him qualifying for the Olympic Games and beyond,” added Cox.

The boxing coach indicated that he is presently building a team around Alexander in an effort to produce multiple local qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Games. He hopes that over the coming years an array of youthful boxers will be generated in an effort to expand TT’s contingent of athletes for coming international tourneys.

“To win an Olympic medal in boxing at the Olympic Games, it takes approximately four to eight years of hard training. And this is what we are trying to provide the athletes with right now. We are seeing the opportunities coming our way by getting athletes on the podium so we will continue with this kind of work and keep pushing forward. Our programme so far has been reaping good results,” he added.

He went on to note that Alexander will be their main focus for the 2016 Games while the upcoming athletes are keen prospects for other major meets. Alexander and his youthful group currently train at the elite boxing gym at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Cox concluded, “This year is strong year for us to also do some development in relation to women boxing. We want to get them back in to the fray. At one time we had a very strong women team and well they fell off the grid so this is an initiative we want to nurture this coming year.”


Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis called on national sporting organisations to update the way they run their organisations. He underlined that the TTOC will continue to advocate the adoption of new and proper governance structures for its affiliates.


Lewis was speaking at the 17th edition of the TTOC’s Annual Awards Ceremony at the National Academy for Performing Arts (NAPA) on Monday evening.


In his address that opened the 50-minute programme, Lewis said the TTOC and the country must engage children and young people and reach out to them to bring them to sport and show them the power of sport and the Olympic values.


“We must ensure that their inspirational role models, our athletes, are at the centre of what we do and why we do what we do,” he said. “Moreover, it is essential that we meet the integrity challenge by protecting Olympic and Commonwealth sports from the dangerous threat posed by doping, gambling, the cycle of corruption and poor governance.”


Lewis said if the sporting authorities failed to confront face these challenges, their right to self-regulate, their autonomy, legitimacy and stewardship “will be taken away from us. To whom much is given, much is expected.”


Lewis added that to start dealing with some of those concerns, the TTOC will continue in 2015 to “vigorously promote the adoption of good governance and ethics across the country’s Olympic and Commonwealth Sport movement and that we be unwavering and advocate and vigorously promote a good governance code for sport in T&T and ensure that affiliated NSOs align with the Olympic Charter and include in their constitutions basic universal principles of good governance.”


He added that the TTOC must lead from the front in championing the development of a sport industry and articulating a framework that will inform the sport policy debate.


While congratulating the successful sportsmen for the year, Lewis said sport was still on the margins of T&T society and had to compete with different interests that present a threat to healthy lifestyles.


“The responsibility to create and shape a bright sustainable future for tomorrow’s athletes and for sport on the whole falls to our generation of sport leaders, administrators, athletes and coaches. We have to modernise how we market, promote and brand Olympic and Commonwealth sport and the Olympic and Commonwealth values and ideals to the current and future generation of public, media and corporate audiences.


The climb is steep. The hurdles are high, “ Lewis stated


At her turn at the podium, TTOC Sportswoman of the Year Cleopatra delivered the feature address in which she stated Lewis’ and the TTOC’s 10 gold by 24 athlete welfare fund initiative was a realistic one once the country embarked on providing the funding, resources, technical support staff unit and environment for elite athletes now.

The career of up-and-coming wicketkeeper-batsman Nicholas Pooran has been put on hold following injuries suffered in a motor car accident.
Pooran underwent surgery yesterday after suffering a fractured left ankle and a damaged left knee in an accident in St Mary’s, near his home in Couva. Pooran was returning home from training with the national team currently preparing for next week’s Nagico Super50 regional one-day series to be staged here.
“Terrible” was the way CEO of the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board, former T&T and West Indies opening batsman Suruj Ragoonath described the setback for the left-handed strokemaker who burst onto the scene with a debut half-century for the Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel in the inaugural Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 tournament in 2013 as a 17 year-old.
“The situation is being monitored and our doctors are in touch with the doctor who is treating with Nicholas,” Ragoonath told the Express yesterday. He added: “The first priority is his general well-being and the second priority would be his cricket.”
Speaking briefly also yesterday, Pooran’s father Lawrence said his son was in “good spirits” ahead of the surgery. However, Pooran’s personal setback has also been a blow for the Red Force.
Already without regular wicketkeeper/batsman Denesh Ramdin due to West Indies duty, the selectors yesterday called up Steven Katwaroo to replace Pooran.
“It is a huge steback,” said Ragoonath. “Nicholas is one of the most if not the most talented young players in the Caribbean. His career was very much on the launching pad. We are hoping that there is positive news coming out of the surgery.”
Chairman of the senior selection panel Alec Burns was more philosophical about the enforced change. “We have to move on from this unfortunate incident. Our chain is as strong as our weakest link,” he said. “We would bounce back.”
He was more concerned however, about the recovery of the precocious left-hander who further marked himself down as a player of the future when he stroke 143 out of a total of 208 in a losing cause against Australia at last year’s under-19 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates.
“Having heard that news, it was quite devastating,” Burns said. “I immediately thought about myself when I was in an accident...We are hoping that he recovers quickly and gets healthy.” But Burns again expressed confidence in T&T’s reserve strength, noting that “young Katwaroo is an out and out keeper and he is a useful batsman, so hopefully we will be in good stead.”

NGC Red Force squad:
Rayad Emrit (Captain), Jason Mohammed (Vice-captain), Dwayne Bravo, Darren Bravo, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Ravi Rampaul, Nicholas Sookdeosingh, Jeremy Solozano, Evin Lewis, Stephen Katwaroo, Akeal Hosein, Imran Khan, Kevon Cooper.