" We have a gap between generations,” says Sheikh Ahmad. (ATR)
The newly re-elected president of the Olympic Council of Asia tells Around the Rings a new generation of Olympic leaders is needed.
“It’s easy to reach your goal, but difficult to keep the success,” said Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, recounting the growth of sport in Asia that includes Asian Games, Beach Games, Winter Games and international events such as the Youth Olympics and Summer and Winter Games.
“This is my new responsibility, how we keep the success in this organization, he says, pointing out that new leaders will be needed to forge ahead.
“Most important is how we find the new generation to lead the Olympic Movement on this continent. The sport movement is led by some senior leaders who have done a great job, but also we have a gap between generations,” he tells Around the Rings in an interview after the close of the OCA General Assembly held Thursday in Tokyo.
Ahmad himself was part of a new generation when at 29 he took over from his late father as OCA president in 1991; he turns 50 next month.
He says the way new technologies have been adopted by the youth of the world, it is time to find ways to take the athletes of the world and develop them as new leaders for sport.
“We have a gap between generations. I think now with the new technology, with the new mentality, I think we have to give them more space, to play a more important role in the movement, as a leader, not just as an athlete,” said the Sheikh.
“I think we need some guide, some roadmap to this goal,” he says.
ANOC Changes Needed Says Ahmad
The OCA leader also suggested that it is time to look at the work of the Association of National Olympic Committees to see how to make it even more effective. ANOC is the umbrella organization representing the 205 National Olympic Committees of the world. Ahmad and the presidents of the four other continental NOC groups serve as vice presidents.
Since its formation 30 years ago, ANOC has been headed by the legendary Mario Vazquez Rana
The OCA President with the IOC President in Tokyo. (ATR)
of Mexico. Now 79, Vazquez Rana has three more years to serve in his latest term as ANOC chief.
“We have to support President Vazquez Rana and at the same time change this organization to bring the continents closer together,” he says.
Ahmad noted that after worries about five years ago for the financial health of the Olympic Movement, the growth of marketing revenue, income from a multitude of events and new TV deals such as the one struck in June between the IOC and NBC, the concern now should be how to bring this increase of cash to the world’s NOCs.
“I think we have to be very careful not about a shortage, but how to bring these increases to the benefit of the movement,” he says.
Ahmad, who could be a potential successor to Vazquez Rana, dismisses talk that he is interested in the post.
“Leadership is not an issue right now. President Vazquez Rana is our president. We will support him until he says enough,” he says.
Ahmad says proposals for change are already being considered.
“We don’t have to change president. W just have to work more for the success of ANOC,” says Ahmad.
Ahmad Says OCA Successor to Emerge
The OCA President says he is not concerned about his successor when it comes time for him to move on. The Sheikh says he believes the younger generation will provide the right candidate.
He credits the establishment of seats on the IOC for 10 active athletes for helping to groom new leaders for the Olympic Movement.
“I think the IOC was lucky when they decided to include the athletes as IOC members. For the first time we are not just with them in the Olympic Village or the playing field. We have the same thing with the OCA Athletes Commission.
“It is destiny, there has to change,” says Ahmad.
Written and reported in Tokyo by Ed Hula
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