By Neto Baptiste
President of the National Olympic Committee (NOC), EP Chet Greene, has made it clear that the organisation will not attempt to influence the outcome of internal issues facing any of its member associations.
Greene, at the time, was responding to questions regarding the state of boxing in the twin-island state and the obvious prolonged tiff between the national governing boxing association and some gyms.
“We have adopted a stance that whenever there are issues we will engage at the executive level with the association and the executive before we come public. One of the things I think has affected sports in Antigua — and I know you guys are in the media and your job is to sell news — but too often we run to the media before we try to resolve things internally,” he said.
“I am hoping that for 2020 that the new thrust, the new focus of the NOC will be inspiring to national associations and encouraging you to turn a page, so to speak, to resolve issues internally before they become public boil-overs and when they become public boil-overs, invariably, people start taking sides,” he added.
The Antigua and Barbuda Boxing Association and some gyms which had been long-time members of the association, have been at loggerheads for some years now. The animosity stems from the fact that there has been no local boxing programme for quite some time, while the association has not had an election in over 10 years.
Greene said the NOC has adopted the IOC’s recommendations coming out of last year’s tumultuous elections where the international body was called upon to mediate between the NOC and one association.
“Going into the NOC elections of last year I am sure you can recall the fencing saga and the attempts made by certain people to deny some members of their rights to vote. In the discussions we had with the IOC, we were able to very carefully craft the role of the NOC in these matters [so] we will not interfere with the internal running of national associations, but what we will do, however, is draw to their attention [to] weaknesses,” he said.
Greene, a former minister of sports, admitted also that it’s difficult task when asked to mediate internal issues.
“Because so many of our sports programmes in Antigua are about personalities as opposed to solid programmes or philosophical positions, it is hard sometimes to even broach these matters because somebody will think you are coming at it from a political perspective or a personal perspective because you don’t like so and so. The truth is, it is a difficult terrain in which to work because I’ve been working in sports in Antigua for the last 30-something years and it’s the most difficult job I’ve ever had in bringing all these desperate views together. Like I said, most of it is not even about a philosophical position; there were personalities,” he said. Last year, UK-based boxer, Alston Ryan, won bronze in the men’s light welterweight division at the Pam American Games. It was the country’s first medal in boxing at any major event.