PRESIDENT of the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis has been appointed chairman of the Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) task force dedicated to race, gender diversity and inclusion.
On June 17, Lewis was featured alongside a host of prominent international sports leaders on SIGA’s Soccerex webinar entitled “Football for All”.
Following the success of this online series, a task force was set up among Soccerex participants, by SIGA CEO Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, in order to press for meaningful reform. Lewis heads the ten-member gender-equal committee.
In a statement issued by SIGA on June 9, the group’s mandate is to develop and propose a series of recommendations aimed at promoting the highest standards on race, gender, diversity, and inclusion in sport.
These recommendations will be submitted to SIGA council for approval by the end of August.
On his appointment to chair the task force, the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC) president said, “On the issue of racism and racial discrimination and inequalities in sport, it is our duty, responsibility, and obligation to create positive change. We have to root out and eliminate all forms of discrimination in sport.
There is a Yoruba proverb that says don’t be afraid to look at your faults. When we acknowledge our errors and face up to our shortcomings, no one can use them against us.”
Recently, Lewis has been vocal on the lifetime ban imposed on former American Olympic track and field medallists Vince Matthews and Wayne Collett in 1972. He believes the pair should be reinstated and awarded the Olympic Order for reflecting their anger against at the state of race relations in the US at the 1972 Munich Games.
After Matthews and Collett sprinted to 400m gold and silver respectively, they stood casually atop the podium during the playing of the American national anthem. Their disregard for the anthem was viewed as disrespectful by then-International Olympic Committee president Avery Brundage who immediately banned them from the Olympic Games.
Ironically, Brundage made the same decision four years earlier in Mexico City, when Tommie Smith and John Carlos accepted their medals after the 200m finals, and raised their black-gloved fists into the air, saluting the struggles of black Americans.
Lewis added, “Nelson Mandela said sport has the power to change the world while Mahatma Gandhi said be the change we want to see. More specifically systemic racism and racial discrimination and inequalities is a reality for too many involved in sport where the colour of your skin matters more than your character. This is unacceptable and now is the time to do something about it. We cannot continue to ignore and deny the problem.”
SIGA TASK FORCE
TTOC and CANOC president Brian Lewis (chairman); head of Starlizard Integrity Services Affy Sheikh; SIGA council member Angela Melo; CEO of International Mixed Martial Arts Densign White; FA Inclusion Advisory Board member Paul Elliott; CEO US Center for SafeSport Ju’Riese Colόn; SIGA Global Partnerships director Katie Simmonds; two-time Paralympian and 10-time USA World Team member Karin Korb; Britain’s first black female Commonwealth boxing title winner Stacey Copeland and FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) Network head of policy Pavel Klymenko.