(ATR) The Central American and Caribbean Sports Organization (CACSO) will convene a virtual extraordinary general assembly on August 15 to analyze the situation created by Panama's unexpected withdrawal from hosting the 2022 Central American and Caribbean Games.
Panama City was supposed to host the 2022 Games. (Wikimedia Commons)
In exclusive statements to Around the Rings
, CACSO president Luis Mejía Oviedo, shortly after concluding his early morning program on Dominican Republic television, said that he is “absolutely confident that sooner rather than later we will have a country to organize the Games".
"We already have signs of interest from some countries," revealed the IOC member.
On Saturday, CACSO appointed the president of the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee, Sara Rosario, to chair the committee that will evaluate possible new venues. Rosario already had that responsibility for the Santo Domingo 2026 Games, to which only the Dominican Republic aspires now after Mexico bowed out.
Mejía clarified that when Panama City was chosen, in February 2017, an alternate host was not defined by CACSO.
For Mejía, those from Panama would be his first Games in the position he assumed on October 31, 2019.
When the decision to resign was announced last Friday, Mejía described the handling of the issue by the Panamanian authorities as "irresponsible", since CACSO heard about it from the press and not directly from anyone involved with the organizing committee. In addition, just two weeks ago Mejía had received guarantees that the games would be organized.
To an ATR
question, Mejía did not rule out that among the alternatives for the 2022 Games could be holding them in more than one country, if there were no other solution to the dramatic consequences caused by the pandemic.
In 2009 Panama had already renounced the Central American Games and the Central American Sports Organization (ORDECA) saved them when distributing sports in various countries in that region.
"Obviously we will be open to do what is most convenient."
"Can there be more than one way? That is one. There may be others… but the most important thing is the firmness that we are going to have the Games.
CACSO president Luis Mejía (ATR)
"We are not today, tomorrow or next week talking or holding meetings, but rather starting a protocol to listen via our New Headquarters Commission. In fact we will have a virtual general assembly on August 15.
"We are taking things with aplomb but with the certainty that we will have a venue in the right conditions to mount a modest but well-achieved Games."
Mejia declined to name the countries interested in hosting the Games within two years.
However, some have begun to mention Barranquilla, Colombia as a possible substitute. The Colombian city successfully organized the latest version of the Games in 2018.
To another question, Mejía confirmed that the CACSO Executive Board accepted the resignation of its treasurer, Camilo Amado, who is president of the Panamanian Olympic Committee and one of the leaders of the Organizing Committee Panama 2022.
Mejía refused to discuss the amount of the fine that could be levied to the Panamanians for breach of contract.
He did say that the Legal Commission headed by the Jamaican lawyer Christopher Samuda is working on that issue as well as the termination of the contract with the Panama 2022 Organizing Committee.
Some sources have said that Panama would have to pay a million dollars, an affirmation to which Henry Pozo, president of the Organizing Committee, has limited himself to saying to a Panamanian media that "there is an agreement, there are clauses" and that "the commissions or legal departments should see the issue. "
Mejía said that this new race against the clock that ODECABE faces "is manageable."
"I do not want to justify it but there are many possible venues that have 95% of the constructions made"
"That is a case. Another is the modality of hotels such as Sports Village ”
"If it were three or six months it was a problem but there are two years ahead"
Panamanian authorities led by its president, Laurentino Cortizo, said that due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they had to divert funds destined for the Games to the health sphere.
They also gave up on the women's world soccer championship under 20 that they had to share with Costa Rica.
But two weeks ago, Panamanian officials had written to Odecabe with the guarantee that they would continue with the preparations for the Games.
Panamanians were requesting a change of date, from November 2022 to March 2023, a request to which CACSO was flexible.
For the Games, Panama had to make an investment of about 300 million dollars.
With just over four million inhabitants, Panama has become the Central American country with the highest number of infections (60,296) and deaths (1,294) from coronavirus.
Luis Mejía reiterated that CACSO's main priority is the protection of athletes.
"I prefer the health medals than the gold, silver and bronze medals of any Games"
Written by Miguel Hernandez
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