FROM LEFT Romell Knowles, Present Olympic President and Sir Arlington Butler, BOA chief in 1980
March 16, 2020
As the Coronavirus infections number grows in Japan, the 2020 Olympic Games extravaganza, due to get started on July 24, appears to be threatened. The Government of Japan, the Olympic Organizing Committee there, and, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are all in a quandary as to a definite course of action.
Although the Japanese Olympic Committee is not with the idea of a postponement of the iconic, historic sports classic, there is, in fact, the possibility of an actual cancellation. Whatever happens on that end though, here in The Bahamas, a big decision looms for sports leaders, in particular, the president of the Bahamas Olympic Committee, Romell Knowles.
This is one case, whereby the finger cannot with good conscience, be pointed at the Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture. The Hon. Lanisha Rolle, would be best minded to just sit back and allow the sports leaders to guide the process to an ultimate decision, as to whether The Bahamas will send a delegation, and expose scores of athletes and officials to coronavirus, or play it safe and stay at home.
As pointed out in this space on numerous occasions, the government has no authority over the sporting organizations, other than regarding the funding it makes available. I have noticed that there has been a call for a general meeting of sports leaders to discuss the country’s participation in the Olympics, in Japan, where coronavirus is problematic.
In Japan, up to March 12, there were over 600 infections, and another 600-plus associated with the Diamond Princess Cruise ship. At the writing of this column, 23 persons had died, 16 of them having been infected in Japan, and the other seven on the cruise ship.
So, there is a danger element, Bahamian sports leaders must recognize, and acknowlege. July is just four months away and the life of the pandemic looks to extend beyond the mid-way point of this year. Before thousands of dollars are spent in preparation of the Olympics, for example, the purchase of plane tickets, I submit that a decision should be made, relatively soon.
Knowles and his BOC executive colleagues are the bottom line factors. The Olympic Games come under the jurisdiction of the BOC, and none other.
The Bahamas was at such a point of deliberation once before, in 1980, when American President Jimmy Carter called for a boycott of the Olympic Games in Russia, because of the invasion of Afghanistan. The late Sir Arlington Butler, then president of the Bahamas Olympic
Association, led the cause for The Bahamas to boycott, along with our neighbor, the United States. It was a huge decision by Butler and company. The government of that day, sided with the BOA, but the final decision was that of the National Olympic Committee (NOC).
In the Caribbean, Jamaica, Trinidad/Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guyana ignored the boycott call of President Carter and participated.
This is another pivotal period of the Bahamas Olympic Movement.
What will Knowles and his sporting associates do?
How will they roll the dice?
This is a dicey situation, potentially dangerous for Bahamians, if a delegation does go to Japan. The decision is a tough one to make.
(To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at firstname.lastname@example.org or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).