International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Richard ‘Dick’ Pound believes that Barbados has the potential to become a world leader in sports.
Delivering the feature address during the Barbados Olympic Association 50th annual awards ceremony, Pound said Barbados was ideally positioned as it already possessed critical attributes which made it primed for success globally.
“Barbados can become a world leader, a world top leader if it chooses to do so,” Pound, one of the longest-serving IOC members for 65 years, told a packed audience at the Hilton Hotel on Thursday night.
“You have education, you have culture, you have sporting tradition, and you operate in the most influential international language. You are part of the Commonwealth, the Caribbean and the Americas. Those are all superb platforms from which to build and lead.
“Enormous potential can be unlocked and contributed to both youths and the enhancement of their contributions to their own communities. Those who lead sports must lead by example, they must insist on the ethical basis of sports.
“They must ensure that no one loses sight of that moral compass. They have a responsibility to protect those values, and they cannot just talk the talk, they’ve got to be able to walk the walk.”
Pound, who served as vice-president of the IOC from 1987 to 1991, said sports had undergone major social reform such as gender equality.
Additionally, he explained that the revolution in communication technologies now afforded everyone global access to the Olympics on a scale not imaginable half a century ago. He also said sports equipment and facilities had also improved.
“The Games have become bigger and more universal; more countries than ever before can now participate,” said the official, who is currently chancellor of McGill University in Canada.
“We are finally approaching gender equity in the field of play although not yet in the direction in the leadership of sports. I do hope that will continue to improve.
“The IOC itself has gone from a very conservative pale, male and stale organization as it didn’t mind money falling into its hands but didn’t monetize its Olympic assets namely the Olympic rings, the Olympic brand and the aspirational aspects of Olympianism.
“This monetization injects much more money into the international sports system than was ever imagine and it makes it possible to support more athletes in more countries.”
Pound pointed out that while there had been advancements in the sports industry, there were also issues which needed to be addressed, and which threatened the “continued existence of the sport as we know it”.
“With the many successes that have been achieved, they are also some trends that should have attracted more attention from sports authorities since they reflect dangers to the continued existence of the sport as we know it and as we hope it to remain,” he noted.
“There is a general erosion of the ethical platform on which sports is base — the notice of the respect for the rules of play, respect for opponents and fair play generally. Match-fixing affects many sports, and it is only recently we [athletics] begun to befall.
“If matches are fixed and there is no competition, there is no uncertainty about the outcome; the public will lose interest. If the public loses interest, so will broadcasters, sponsors who will not want to be identified with competitions that are not genuine.”
On the night, talented 110 metres hurdler Shane Brathwaite and surfer Chelsea Tuach were named the male and female Senior Athletes-of-the-Year.