BRIAN Lewis, president of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC), believes that sport associations in the Caribbean will have to find innovative ways to coexist with COVID-19.
Lewis, speaking at the Caribbean Broadcasting Union-organised Webinar on the effects of COVID-19 on regional sporting events, noted that the pandemic can be seen as a wake-up call for Governments to realise that sports play a very important role in the West Indies and as such, consideration should always be given to assist.
Sports in the Caribbean were not exempt from the harsh reality that was brought with COVID-19, with everything around the region being put on pause.
However, while many sport leagues globally are either on the verge of returning, or would have already seen their leagues restart, in the Caribbean, with the exception of two cricket leagues, everything else remains at a standstill.
Lewis, who also sits as the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), said: “The innovation will come, for example; most federations and National Olympic Committees have to exist digitally. The whole conversation in terms of eSports is now becoming a very live one because at the end of the day, if there isn’t a vaccine, everybody is talking about post-COVID-19. The reality is that we’re still in COVID-19 and there’s no clarity as to when it would end.”
Meanwhile Lewis said although at present, most Olympic associations and committees affiliated to the International Olympic Committee are at a financial ease and should remain financial viable if next year’s Tokyo Games come off, at the national associations’ level, there are still many challenges that sportsmen and women and the respective administrators will have to face
“For me, where I sit, the challenge is not so much at the NOC level, but at that of their members and at the level of their affiliates,” Lewis reasoned.
He further explained that “the reality is shine this spotlight, throughout the Caribbean. There are a number of governance issues and because of the drying up, especially if the economies of the Caribbean lag recovery; (because) there are predictions in terms of growth and negative growth, then there are going to be national federations that will basically become insolvent.”
The Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees represents 26 members, including Guyana and two Associate Members.
According to the Constitution the Association which was formed in 1999 is there to acknowledge the International Olympic Committee as the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement, to ensure the observance of the Olympic Charter and to contribute to the achievement of the goals set therein while upholding the fundamental principles of the Olympic Games philosophy.
The body is also there to promote, encourage and assist sport, sport development and physical recreation throughout the Caribbean for the benefit of the nations and people of the Caribbean.