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  • Exclusive: Neven Ilic Seeks to Professionalize PASO


    (ATR) Pan American Sports Organization presidential candidate Neven Ilic tells Around the Rings that increasing involvement with the International Olympic Committee with an emphasis on youth events will help grow the organization’s prominence in the Olympic Movement.

    PASO presidential candidate Neven Ilic (COCH)
    Ilic tells ATR in an exclusive interview that while PASO is a leading organization, it “needs to be professionalized” to gain the favor of the IOC and sponsors alike.

    “Today the great challenge is to grow and it will be necessary to professionalize the administrative structure, generate more resources to support the projects of the Olympic committees and generate more projects of interest for private companies in order to incorporate sponsors to the economy of PASO,” says Ilic, president of the Chilean Olympic Committee.

    Once a professional structure is in place, Ilic says PASO can begin to build upon its relationship with the IOC, an organization that PASO members have little influence on given there are just 16 IOC members from the region. By comparison, there are about three times as many IOC members from Europe.

    “Although PASO is already an organization recognized and highly respected by the IOC, we must strengthen joint work with the IOC in terms of generating economic resources and programs to assist NOCs and athletes, and work to increase the presence of Americans among the IOC members,” he says.

    One method of strengthening the relationship includes the development of joint projects with the IOC such as the Pan Am Youth Games. Ilic says the multi-sport event was a request from many of the Caribbean National Olympic Committees following his recent trip through the region to garner support for his campaign.

    PASO presidential candidates (clockwise from top left): Neven Ilic, Keith Joseph, Carlos Nuzman, Jose Puello and Richard Peterkin. (ATR)
    “One of the needs that I could most clearly capture in the visits is that all countries have problems to develop their new generations of athletes, and for that, it makes a lot of sense to develop the Youth Pan Am Games in order to ensure the training and competition of the new generations,” Ilic tells ATR.

    Ilic says the ability of a candidate to determine the needs of his constituents is paramount in the upcoming election at the end of April. Ilic is running against Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Nuzman, former Dominican Republic Olympic Committee president Jose Puello and St. Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee secretary general Keith Joseph.

    IOC member from St. Lucia Richard Peterkin has also entered the race but intends to drop out closer to the general assembly set for Punta del Este, Uruguay. Peterkin's withdrawal would leave four contenders to replace current PASO president Julio Maglione.

    “[The trip] was fantastic because the [NOC] presidents appreciate a candidate who gives the time to visit them to present their ideas, but more importantly one who is able to listen to what they really need,” Ilic says.

    “Today PASO offers the same programs to all countries and the truth is that everyone has very different needs.”

    One need Ilic will seek to quickly address is the opening of additional PASO offices in the United States. Ilic says he intends to maintain PASO’s headquarters in Mexico City but that offices in Miami, Florida would be a benefit to more NOCs.

    “PASO is a Mexican civil association and will remain so,” he says. “We will also open an operational office in the city of Miami that is easily accessible to all NOCs and will allow us to explore the American market that is arguably the strongest in terms of companies that support the development of the sport.”

    Ilic will continue his attempts to gather support from the 41 NOCs that comprise PASO as the April 26 election date nears.

    Reported and written by Kevin Nutley

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