Yesterday, the Olympic Movement celebrated Olympic Day across the world. The Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) is commemorating this occasion with a number of activities to celebrate the entire week and this tree planting ceremony is one of several activities chosen to celebrate Olympic Day 2021. You may ask, why tree planting?
The International Olympic Committee considers the environment as an integral component of Olympism and is committed to the promotion of sustainable development, leading by example with Olympic House, its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, being one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. With hydrogen-powered vehicles in its fleet, the IOC is committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 30% by 2024 and by 45% by 2030 in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Additionally, as recently as last week, the IOC announced a project to plant the “Olympic Forest” in Mali and Senegal (the latter being the host of the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar in 2026) as part of its climate-positive strategy. In keeping with the Olympic philosophy to build a better world through Sport, the BOA has included tree planting this year to raise environmental awareness and to highlight the importance of trees to health and combatting global warming.
The planting of the tree will also commemorate an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Sport and who loved his environment, as is evident by how he embraced life. I speak of none other than the late Ralph Johnson, who became a member of the Board of the Barbados Olympic Association in 1986, becoming Vice President in 1992, and serving in this position until his untimely passing just over a year ago. He played a key role in the establishment of the lottery from which the BOA continues to benefit to this day.
His love of Sport saw him participating in several requiring diverse skills – he was equally comfortable with basketball, football, water polo, squash, motorsport, skiing – both on the water and on the Alpine slopes in Europe – as well as with boxing, golf and sailing.
His contribution as a Sport Administrator earned him the respect of all and he gave of his skills to several sporting organizations, serving as President of the Barbados Yachting Association, the Caribbean Yachting Association, the Barbados Squash Rackets Association and the Caribbean Area Squash Rackets Association.
His success in business was carved by his creativity, leadership and hard work. He is well known as the founder of Harris Paints, but was engaged in many other successful business ventures. In 1997, he was awarded a Barbados National Honour, the Gold Crown of Merit, for his contribution to business and sport.
This tree is our small tribute to this Sporting Icon and will stand as a living memorial to his legacy. May it bring comfort and shade to many generations who seek its shelter.