The successful hosting of the inaugural Caribbean Games in Guadeloupe features as the crowning achievement of the outgoing executive of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC).
So said the current CANOC secretary general Keith Joseph, the man who is currently vying to be the organisation’s next president for the 2022-2026 term when CANOC hosts its XX General Assembly at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain today and tomorrow. Joseph will be up against Christopher Samuda for the presidency.
Back in 2009, CANOC and all 30 of its Caribbean members nursed its wounds when the plans for the initial instalment of the Caribbean Games were scuttled by the H1N1 virus.
But in 2022, CANOC’s leadership overcame the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic – with great assistance from member Guadeloupe – to stage the June 29-July 3 multi-sport regional championship event.
“It wasn’t easy,“ Joseph recalled about the Games, originally scheduled for the June 30 to July 4, 2021 period. ”It seemed like deja vu. But in the end the executive showed resolve, it showed leadership, courage and determination and it is the reason why throughout the preparation and the celebration of the Games themselves, we held the theme “Against All Odds” because we were competing against all odds and I think that was the most important achievement.”
Joseph added the second significant achievement was uniting each single member at a general council meeting to convey support for Guadeloupe’s effort when the French-speaking territory was encountering financial hurdles to successfully pull the Games off.
“The message (conveyed) was: “We are with you! These Games must come off”. And so they undertook to commit their own resources to meet a significant proportion of their accommodation costs, which is not usual .”
Joseph added the process of making that decision was the most significant aspect.
Other major achievements included the development of CANOC’s Communications Commission, including the development of CANOC Sport, that led to forging links with Caribbean Olympic partners – their chef de missions and athletes – ahead of and during the Tokyo Games, to provide daily wraps and coverage of the region’s athletes at the Olympics.
Joseph added that CANOC emerged from the last quadrennial as an internationally-recognised member of the global Olympic movement.
The experienced sports administrator added that CANOC had gained additional recognition from a number of international sports bodies including SIGA (Sports Integrity Global Alliance), TAFISA (The Association For International Sport for All), ANOC (The Association for National Olympic Committees) while at the regional level, CARICOM, the OECS Secretariat and the University of the West Indies (UWI) are also on board.
“So I think that we have come out of a quadrennial where we have made significant strides in terms of our internal structure and mode of operation, in terms of our style of leadership, in terms of our commitment to engaging in international sports issues and letting our voices be heard and above all a kind of harmonisation among the sports movement in the Caribbean, understanding that we exist and we have an interest in the general well-being of sport in the Caribbean,” Joseph concluded.
Outgoing president Brian Lewis said the executive dug deep to execute its agenda during the challenging times of the pandemic and the economic and financial hurdles that ensued.
“It has not been easy. I recall in the build-up to the Guadeloupe 2022 Games the extraordinary dedication and commitment (to the successful staging of the Games) that it took from executive members who had lost family members through Covid…I can say without fear of contradiction, that’s why I am fully supportive of the Keith Joseph slate. He has been there through thick and thin. The Caribbean Olympic movement is a very complex network, so it’s not always easy to get consensus. The executive has shown an extraordinary level of dedication,” Lewis said, adding it was a credit to the executive’s dynamism that it had executed its agenda successfully.
Election of Officers
Keith Joseph’s slate:
Keith Joseph (St Vincent and the Grenadines) – president
John Abramson (Virgin Islands) – 1st vice-president
Brian Lewis (Trinidad and Tobago) – secretary general
Edith Cox (Turks and Caicos) – treasurer (unopposed)
Executive members – Ytania Wiggins (Barbados), Alain Soreze (Guadeloupe)
Christopher Samuda’s slate:
Christopher Samuda (Jamaica) – president
Carson Ebanks (Cayman Islands) – 1st vice president
Cliff Williams (Antigua and Barbuda) – secretary general
Executive members – Bruce Farara (Montserrat), Allan Sharpe (Belize).
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