SportAccord President Marius Vizer tonight accused the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of putting pressure on Federations to withdraw from his organisation following his explosive speech here yesterday.

A total of 27 Summer Olympic Federations and the International Paralympic Committee suspended its association with SportAccord earlier today.

But Vizer does not appear ready to step-back from his confrontation with the IOC President Thomas Bach after he accused him of being in charge of an organisation that is "expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent".

Vizer claimed his comments were justified but the IOC were just trying to protect itself.

"I tell the reality because I have been living in this family for many years," Vizer said in an interview broadcast tonight on Euronews.

"So, in reality that is the voice of the International Federations and I just expressed in one day, in a global message, their voice but yesterday the IOC, instead of analysing the content of what I said, what is true [and] what is not true, what is the next step to correct that and to offer a clear picture, they started to put pressure on some of the International Federations to react, in my opinion, not in a correct way.

"I am happy with the support of my spirit because what I say is true and nobody can stop that.

"You have to make a distinction in sport between people who live for sport and people who live from sport.

"For those who live, more or less exclusively from sport, it’s very attractive and very interesting to defend the system because the virtues of the system, let’s say of the IOC, has lots of tentacles in different directions.

"So the question is very simple, do we want to clean up the story or cover the story?"

Vizer promised he would continue to follow the road he has set out on and not buckle under intimidation.

"I was a soldier and my life was long and difficult till now, and always in my strategies I have different versions," he told Euronews.

"So be sure that I am prepared for the second and the third step, not only with speeches but also with action and strategies.

"The question is to clean-up the system and to make it fair for the benefit of sport.

"Not a system that defends itself and a specific group of leaders or cardinals of sport because we don’t need that and sport doesn’t need that.

"I don’t care if some people are afraid to say that but I say that.

"We don’t need cardinals of sport.

"We don’t need popes.

"We need fair leaders who are models and examples for us."


After several attempts at arriving in Sochi yesterday were halted by uncompromising weather, our plane was forced to land 200 kilometres to the west in the wonderfully named Mineralnye Vode airfield, before resuming its journey four hours later once the conditions had calmed.

An inauspicious start, but the fierceness of last night’s rain paled into insignificance in comparison with the thunderstorms which shook the Olympic Movement this morning as SportAccord President Marius Vizer launched the fiercest attack on the International Olympic Committee in generations.

In his opening speech at this morning’s General Assembly, Vizer accused IOC President Thomas Bach of trying to block projects, claimed the IOC lacked transparency and that its Agenda 2020 reform process had brought "hardly any benefit" to sport.

And that was just him warming up.

“Mr. President, stop blocking the SportAccord strategy in its mission to identify and organise Conventions and multi-sport games,” Vizer added.

He then labelled the IOC system as being “expired, outdated, wrong and unfair”.

By the time he had finished, Bach, like most in the room, appeared taken aback, but rallied well, thanking Vizer drolly for his “friendly” welcome before stoutly defending his record and claiming his adversary’s views were out of step with the International Federations.

Not quite fighting fire with fire, but managing a response that was strong, but also relatively statesmanlike.

In an environment renowned for soft words and public platitudes, with messages therein invariably subtle and unambiguous, this was stirring stuff. The judoka attempting to dispatch the fencer with an ippon before his adversary had a chance to foil the attack.

I have never seen anything like it in my short time covering this Movement, but neither had many of my far more senior colleagues either. The latter days of Primo Nebiolo’s time as head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was one period when relations were similarly fractious with the IOC, some said, but never have simmering tensions erupted into open warfare quite like this before.

Of course, it was an open secret that relations between IOC and SportAccord were tense, as signified simply by the fact that the IOC Executive Board chose not to meet here for the first time since the Convention began over a decade ago.

But as news of Vizer’s outburst began to filter out of the auditorium and through the rest of the Expo Centre, there was bafflement, bemusement and excitement - from journalists at least - that the long and arduous journey had been thoroughly worth it.

More than anything else, everyone seemed to have been knocked off balance. Public Relations gurus were rushing around as multiple clients batted to have their say, advisors struggled to conjure an appropriate response or to direct their charges to the right people. Even Bach’s entourage seemed slightly rattled.

“He’s speaking to a journalist, he’s speaking to a journalist,” I heard one assistant warn another, gesticulating wildly in the direction of Bach.

News gradually filtered out that the IAAF and the International Shooting Sport Federation had resigned their SportAccord membership and that a mysterious letter existed, expressing the opposition of a groups of Federations to Vizer’s words, the precise number of which seemed to be different whoever you spoke to.

As we were still digesting this, Bach suddenly appeared alongside Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the Association of National Olympic Committees President, who, with Bach and Vizer, were the so-called triumvirate of Olympic Movement powerbrokers.

“I’ll go for Bach and you intercept Sheikh Ahmad,” barked my editor, setting off with a turn of speed usually saved for when coffee supplies are dwindling in a press centre, as throngs of other people with the same idea began a similar move.

But, because many of these were International Federation Presidents themselves, we were not short of people to speak to, and almost all were open and happy to talk. Responses ranged from “we will wait until the dust has settled” to “Mr Vizer has shown today he does not know how to do politics”.

What was clear was that the applecart had been well and truly upturned.

Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said that a “week is a long time in politics”, and at times today it seemed even an hour was a long time.

Given this, it would be rash to conclude too strongly about what will happen next, but it does seem that Vizer miscalculated and has now bitten off far more than he can chew.

Surely, rather than acting so rashly, he should have told the members about his impending assault, and at least prepared some sympathetic representatives to stand up afterwards in support of his message? As it is, it is like a general launching a coup d'état but without any troops to back up his bluster.

Meetings of the Association of Summer and Winter Olympic Federations over the next two days will tell us more about the state of play. Yet, as things stand, Vizer now risks losing every Olympic member of SportAccord (except for the International Judo Federation of course, for the obvious reason that he is the President) and, if that happens, either he will have to resign or his organisation will have been irreversibly weakened.

If you are not already convinced that events have already descended out of his control, then the fact he has also declared a second battle with Sheikh Ahmad’s ANOC seems a further nail in the coffin.

Later in the Assembly, the inaugural World Beach Games was awarded to Sochi in 2019, with SportAccord now appearing as the driving force, while Vizer also expressed his excitement for the black tie “Oscars of Sport” taking place during the Convention in three days’ time.

Hold on, wasn’t ANOC’s inaugural awards ceremony in Bangkok last November hyped over and over again as the "Oscars of Sport"? And isn’t the World Beach Games the foremost project of Sheikh Ahmad’s Presidency; his defining legacy more than anything else?

The Kuwaiti Royal is therefore unlikely let go of it that easily, and will take the Oscars line as a further snub, and in a vague statement this evening it was made clear that ANOC plans to go ahead with its own Beach Games, revealing plans to “announce some exciting plans in June 2015”.

A peculiar day then, to the extent that the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, someone not averse to making some political headlines of his own this year, was almost an irrelevance, lost in a sporting dispute that was less of a Cold War and more a simmering one at times veering towards boiling over.

And to think, this was meant to be a gentle day before the Convention properly got underway.

But, while it is perhaps not to be recommended as a political tactic, you have to admire Vizer’s sheer nerve, and the most refreshing thing today has been the blunt, open and forthright nature of it all.

I wrote two weeks ago about the dominance of PR in sport, and how much of it is choreographed and bland. The aforementioned ANOC statement, crafted as it was by their consultancy arm, JTA, was the only exception to this, but everyone else was, if not completely honest, then at least prepared to express clear views, and express them strongly.

And, you know what, while it seems likely Vizer will be outmaneuvered, I sincerely hope he has some fight left in him to continue his attack over the rest of the week.

Because, more than anything else, it has all been great fun so far.


Amateur boxing returns to Siparia on Friday.
After a two-year absence, boxing is back as part of the Siparia Borough Regional Corporation Festival.
Fight time is 7 p.m. at the Siparia Regional Corporation. And next Wednesday the action shifts to Point Fortin from 7 p.m. at Cheetah’s Bar in New Lands.
The Trinidad and Tobago Amateur Boxing Association has also planned cards at the Arima Borough Festival, Chaguanas Borough Festival and also San Fernando City week.
Both cards this weekend and next week, will involve some of Trinidad and Tobago’s top amateur boxers. They are using the cards as warm-ups for the upcoming Pan American qualifiers. This will be a final chance to make the T&T team. The qualifiers are set for June 4-9 in Tijuana, Mexico. The selected boxers leave on May 10, for a four-week live-in camp in Havana, Cuba.
To date, 15 boxers are on the short-list for selection to the T&T team for the Pan Am qualifiers. These include Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Michael Alexander, as well as experienced boxers Andrew Fermin, Aaron Prince and Aaron Cumberbatch who have been part of several T&T national teams.
Also in the initial squad are Christopher De Freitas, Anthony Joseph , Jean–Paul Cooper, Jude Franklin, Justin Parris, Christian Mc Donald, Chimere Taylor, Ingle Charles, Stephanie Allen, Patrice Kalloo, and Kimberly Jackson.


Marc Burns produced a solid run at his first outdoor meet this season. The experienced Trinidad and Tobago sprinter clocked 10.17 seconds to win the War Eagle Invitational men’s 100 metres dash, in Alabama, USA, on Saturday.

In the preliminary round, Burns won heat three in a wind-assisted 10.21 to advance to the final as the fastest qualifier.

Renny Quow also opened his 2015 outdoor campaign with gold. The T&T athlete won the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) Invitational men’s 200m event in 20.78 seconds. South Plains College student Jereem Richards clocked 21.18 to finish first in section two and third overall.

Another T&T/South Plains athlete, Domonique Williams was fourth in the women’s 200m in 23.92 seconds.

UTEP’s Aeisha McDavid finished fourth in the women’s 100m hurdles in a wind-aided 14.20 seconds and fifth in the high jump with a 1.52 metres clearance. And South Plains sprinter Aaliyah Telesford secured fifth spot in the women’s 100m dash in 11.93 seconds.

In Maryland, Deandra Daniel won the Morgan State Legacy women’s high jump with a 1.87m clearance, equalling her personal best. The Coppin State University student also competed in the long jump, finishing sixth with a 5.57m leap.

Emmanuel Stewart established a new national record in the men’s hammer throw, landing the implement 55.11m to finish second. He won the discus with a 50.90m throw.

Temple University’s Kiersten LaRoche got home in 14.81 seconds to finish 11th overall in the women’s 100m hurdles. Coppin State’s Haysean Cowie-Clarke was 14th fastest in the men’s 100m in 10.94 and 35th in the 200m in 22.79. University of Delaware junior, Chelsi Campbell produced a 25.53 seconds run for 20th spot overall in the women’s 200m. And in the 400m, Campbell was 21st in 58.20.

At the Mt SAC Relays, in California, Ayanna Alexander secured silver in the women’s triple jump, her 13.83m effort earning her third spot on the 2015 world outdoor performance list.

Mikel Thomas was also impressive, the T&T hurdler snapping up silver in the men’s 110m hurdles in 13.32 seconds. He is sixth on the 2015 world list. The clocking was the second fastest of Thomas’ career, behind his 13.19 national record.

Jarrin Solomon secured second spot in the men’s 400m in 45.86 seconds. In the women’s 400m hurdles, Josanne Lucas got home in 57.24 seconds to finish first in section two and fourth overall. Lucas was also fourth fastest in the college/open 100m hurdles, the T&T athlete getting to the line in 13.54.

Magnolia Howell clocked 55.94 seconds for 11th spot overall in the women’ 400m. In the college/open men’s 400m, College of the Sequoias students, Ohdel James and Theon Lewis were 24th and 31st, respectively, clocking 48.09 and 48.30. And in the college/open women’s 100m, Western Kentucky University sprinter Peli Alzola was 31st fastest in 11.86 seconds.

At the Ross Black Open, in New Mexico, Kayelle Clarke bagged bronze in the women’s 100m, the New Mexico Junior College student clocking 11.75 seconds.

In Oklahoma, Osei Alleyne-Forte was fifth fastest in the John Jacobs Invitational men’s 400m event in 47.49 seconds. His Abilene Christian University teammate, Sterlen Paul was 10th in the men’s 800m in one minute, 53.44 seconds.

In the women’s 200m, Missouri State University’s Kadisha Francois was 15th overall in 25.11 seconds, finishing one spot ahead of another T&T athlete, Jessica James (25.34). And in the 100m dash, Francois was 16th in 12.64.

At the Georgia Tech Invitational, Tiffin University’s Kevin Roberts finished sixth in the men’s long jump with a 7.07m leap.

In Texas, Dannielle Davis produced a 5.58m effort to finish 12th in the Michael Johnson Classic women’s long jump. The Baylor University senior clocked 14.30 seconds for 20th spot overall in the 100m hurdles.

University of Texas at Arlington sprinter, Aaron Leung Woo-Gabriel was 17th in the men’s 200m in 22.75 seconds and 30th in the 100m in 11.25.

This is a game changer.


That is how president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis described the announcement of Cable and Wireless Communications as the official broadcast sponsor and exclusive telecom partner who will provide a Caribbean-centred broadcast of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.


This was announced yesterday during a media conference at Hyatt Regency Trinidad which was attended by local and Caribbean athletes, including T&T’s Jehue Gordon and Cleopatra Borel.


CANOC (Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committee) Broadcasting Inc (CBI), which is a subsidiary of CANOC, will manage the Caribbean centred Olympic feed, which they have contracted ESPN Caribbean to provide.


CBI CEO Larry Romany, fielding questions from the media, revealed that the feed will be provided to all regional media outlets free of cost.


CBI will deliver Olympic television coverage to the Caribbean on all platforms, including free to air terrestrial networks, cable, digital, mobile and online streaming, 12 hours every day for the duration of the games.


Eleven additional live Olympic feeds will be provided alongside the ESPN feed.


“We are proud to have this opportunity to bring an enriched Olympic experience to our region,” said Cable and Wireless consumer group president John Reid.


The coverage will include feature interviews, profiles and live-action footage of athletes from the region.


Lewis was encouraged by the announcement and said it will only help to grow and strengthen the Olympic movement in T&T and the Caribbean.


“What was announced here is going to make a difference to sport and the Olympic movement in Trinidad and Tobago that is unprecedented,” he said yesterday.


“This represents an important step for the Olympic movement in the Caribbean. The advent of integrated communication across the globe means that athletes and supporters live in a world of immediate access to content on any platform of their choosing,” he added.


“The Caribbean athletes have proven that we can compete and win against the best that the world can produce,” said Lewis.


“CANOC have taken a decision to place our athletes at the centre of what we do. This is testimony that the power of the Olympic Games can unite the region as evident by the coming together of CANOC and the founding of CBI Limited,” the TTOC president added.


Minister of Sport Brent Sancho also said that yesterday’s announcements were huge.


“This is exciting for us as a nation. This really brings Olympic sports to a whole new perspective. I am excited for the athletes because it puts them at the forefront.


“I remember how Ian Morris inspired me as an athlete. That is the kind of inspiration we are looking for. Now you are putting it on a wider scale. You are talking about mobile apps and some of the things our young people are into.


“They are getting to see our current and future stars and athletes and get the opportunity to emulate them as see every moment, before, after and during the event and that only bodes well for sport in this country,” Sancho explained.


And Caribbean fans can look forward to even more coverage of Caribbean athletes in the sporting arena in the future.


“We have already won the rights for Pan Am Games and you will be seeing those games in a very similar way,” Romany said.


“We are working towards getting as many sporting properties as possible and then working with the partners to bring coverage to the Caribbean people,” he added.

More than 15 million people across the Caribbean will benefit from a strategic broadcast rights deal agreed and signed between Cable and Wireless Communications and CANOC Broadcasting Inc to televise performances of regional athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympics from the opening to closing ceremonies.

The announcement was made by CANOC CEO Larry Romany at a media conference at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

It means that viewers in this part of the world will no longer be saddled with the North American perspective of the games since this is where Caribbean broadcasters usually access their feeds.

CANOC, a subsidiary of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees, has secured the exclusive Olympic content rights across all platforms to 20 English-speaking countries, as well as non-exclusive rights in ten non-English speaking countries throughout the region.

In an effort to ensure that material packaged met international standards, CANOC enlisted the services of global sports broadcaster ESPN to achieve this. ESPN will also recruit the best sporting minds in the Caribbean to deliver commentary before and after athletes compete.

Romany said the production deal with ESPN will cost US$5 million but he declined comment on the value of CWC’s investment as the exclusive telecoms partner.

Like Romany, John Reid, president of CWC Consumer Group, did not disclose the value of the deal but was clear it was arguably the biggest of its kind in the region.

“This is a coming out event for us. This is a way to prove to the people that we are going to put our money where our mouth is. I think this is absolutely critical for us,” Reid said.

Under the agreement, CWC customers will view the games across 12 of its channels, including its video on the demand service.

Romany said bars and restaurants would also not be blocked from carrying the broadcasts.