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  • OpEd -- Pan Am Olympics Chiefs Face Feeble Future


    03/25/14

    Mexico City will host the PASO Executive Committee meeting (Getty Images)
    (ATR) Leaders of the Pan-American Sports Organization meet in Mexico City, facing declining influence in global sport politics.

    The 20-member executive committee of PASO consists mainly of NOC presidents from the Americas. The meeting is led by Mario Vasquez Rana, president of the organization for 30+ years.

    Once one of the most powerful members of the IOC, Vasquez Rana resigned his seat in early 2012, along with the presidency of the Association of National Olympic Committees, to avoid a struggle for power over the association representing the world’s 204 NOCs.

    The abdication immediately removed Vasquez Rana from influence in the affairs of ANOC and relegated PASO to a minor status in the pantheon of Olympic organizations, despite its membership including powerhouse NOCs such as the US, Canada and Brazil.

    Vasquez Rana kept the reins at PASO as a last vestige, but he’s become a president in isolation. Since leaving his other posts two years ago he’s avoided contact with the Olympic world outside PASO. As president of one of the world’s five NOC continental associations, he’s an automatic at the dais for ANOC meetings, but has failed to attend any since his last in 2011. He missed the London Olympics and the Winter Games in Sochi last month. PASO secretary general Jimena Saldana takes the place of the reluctant president at meetings and events.

    Now 82, he has been typically coy about whether he will seek another four-year term in 2016. And possible successors have also been shy about declaring their interests in succeeding Vasquez Rana. Richard Peterkin, IOC member and St. Lucia NOC president, is the only one to publicly signal interest in the job.

    No agenda was released publicly ahead of the meeting, not even to members of the executive committee, Around the Rings understands.

    Mario Vazquez Rana (ATR)
    Reports are expected from the organizers of the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, led by new CEO Saad Rafi.

    Deciding who will serve as representatives from PASO on the ANOC executive council may be another agenda item. PASO is allowed to select the five who will attend this weekend’s ANOC meeting in Kuwait.

    Presiding in Kuwait will be Sheikh Ahmad Al Sabah, Olympic Council of Asia president and IOC member who took over from Vasquez Rana two years ago. Ahmad has regularly invited Vasquez Rana to return so that he can be lauded by the membership but the Mexican has grudgingly failed to respond.

    The lost state of affairs for PASO may not be a topic of discussion at the Tuesday meeting of the executive committee, but it certainly may be on the minds of some of the members who want to steer the organization in a different direction.

    But unless there is an uprising in Mexico City demanding Vasquez Rana to take his place at the ANOC table, he is likely to once again absent himself from playing a larger role for the 41 NOCs in the Americas he’s been elected to represent.

    Written by Ed Hula.

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