The President of the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees (CANOC), Keith Joseph, highlighted the importance of recognising the organisation as the most significant sporting body in the Caribbean during its 21st Annual General Assembly opening ceremony at the Hilton Barbados Resort on Sunday, October 8. He believes this recognition will help elevate sports in the region.
President Joseph further stressed the importance of working with governments, the Caribbean Community, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Secretariat, and The University of the West Indies to firmly establish a true Caribbean sports culture that caters to systematic sport and physical activity development from the cradle to the grave.
The CANOC head said it is crucial that they succeed in promoting positive values in sports to foster Caribbean solidarity and genuine unity, and he warned that if they fail in their efforts, history will not forgive them.
Mr. Joseph also addressed several other issues, including the inclusion of territories without National Olympic Committees in hemispheric sporting organisations. He expressed concern that even though CANOC, during the tenure of former president Barbadian Steve Stoute, had been pushing for territories with colonial status, which were denied the chance to establish NOCs, to become Associate Members of CANOC and Centro Caribe Sports, this initiative and similar forms of recognition were still being opposed by Panam Sports and the Pan American Games.
Additionally, the President of CANOC has pointed out that there is a challenge at the continental level to end the discriminatory weighted voting system in the Americas. This system favours countries that have hosted the Pan American Games and the Central American and Caribbean Games. He also mentioned that although the statutes of Panam Sports allow for Associate Members, there is no mechanism available yet to facilitate such membership and emphasised the need to continue lobbying for the implementation of such a mechanism by Panam Sports.
Meanwhile, Minister of Youth, Sport and Community Empowerment of Barbados, Charles Griffith, noted that economies of scale make it difficult for smaller countries in the region to participate in semi-professional leagues as they would like to. However, he said combining resources may make establishing semi-professional leagues for mass-based sports in the Caribbean possible. Minister Griffith believes this is essential to uncover and develop athletic talent that might remain undiscovered. He also urged CANOC to create a database of best practices that can be shared across the region, stressing that to progress as a region, it is crucial to work together and share knowledge rather than keeping those best practices hidden.
CANOC is the regional representative body for National Olympic Committees, Commonwealth Games Associations and governing bodies of national sports organisations from the Caribbean. The 21st General Assembly was hosted in collaboration with the Barbados Olympic Association Inc. and attended by 22 of the 30 member countries.