The future of sports in Barbados, gender disparity in sports, duty-free access to sports equipment, the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and a proposal to make road tennis an Olympic sport were among the topics discussed Thursday when the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, OLY, paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister, the Honourable Mia Amor Mottley, at Ilaro Court.
In the meeting, which lasted approximately 30 minutes, Prime Minister Mottley reiterated her Government’s commitment to sports development, noting that steps are being taken to install lights at all the hardcourts and playing fields on the island, to install bleachers at one playing field in each parish, as well as refurbish the National Stadium. Those attending the meeting included Minister of Youth, Sport and Community Empowerment Charles Griffith, Permanent Secretary Yolande Howard, and Director of Sports, National Sports Council, Neil Murrell.
Regarding road tennis, which is indigenous to Barbados, Prime Minister Mottley said that the Government is committed to attracting international appeal for the sport, noting that it has already been introduced to Rwanda.
“It is the perfect sport for poor people and for inner cities… It has the potential in my view to be able to democratize access for ordinary people, in a way that many other sports cannot,” PM Mottley stated as she requested the IOC’s help in taking road tennis to the world.
She added, “Hopefully today would come to be regarded, the 9th of March, as the future of global world tennis”.
In response, President Bach pledged the IOC’s support to develop a strategy to build a federation and make road tennis more international. Meanwhile, commenting on the Prime Minister’s concern about gender disparity, including the pay difference between male and female athletes, and the broadcast quality of female sports like cricket, Bach said the IOC is doing its part to address disparity among athletes.
He revealed that at the Paris 2024 Olympics, there would be full gender parity for the first time. He said there would be the same number of events for male and female athletes. He added they are encouraging the international federations to provide more opportunities for mixed events, allowing smaller National Olympic Committees the best chance to participate. His remarks came as he disclosed that the IOC has been able to appoint equal numbers of men and women to all their commissions. Additionally, Bach indicated that the IOC is willing to use its digital platforms to broadcast more women’s sports to the world.
Following the meeting with the Prime Minister, Bach, who was re-elected as President for a second four-year term in March 2021, also called on the President of Barbados, the Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason. He had a fruitful discussion with Her Excellency, the BOA’s patron, about sports development in Barbados.
President Bach was accompanied to the meetings by the President of the Barbados Olympic Association, Sandra Osborne, the Secretary General, Erskine Simmons and the President of Panam Sports, Neven Ilic.