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June 03, 2020

Do not flinch in the face of adversity

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement that phase three of the reopening of the T&T…
June 03, 2020

An open letter to sport #BlackLivesMatter

Citizens across the world have mobilised to stand up for equal rights, for freedom, fairness,…
June 02, 2020

Rolf Bartolo - A man of integrity

Tributes keep pouring in for Rolf Bartolo from different quarters in Trinidad and Tobago. On…
June 01, 2020

Lewis: Sport can be key in covid19 recovery

BRIAN LEWIS, president of the TT Olympic Committee (TTOC), says that sports can play a…
May 31, 2020

FEMALE MEMBERSHIP OF IOC COMMISSIONS REACHES AN ALL-TIME HIGH OF 47.7 PER CENT - TWO…

THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE (IOC) ANNOUNCED TODAY THE COMPOSITION OF ITS COMMISSIONS FOR 2020. THE…
May 28, 2020

TTOC to roll out covid19 relief to athletes

The TT Olympic Committee (TTOC) is currently finalising the criteria needed for athletes to benefit…
May 26, 2020

OpEd: The IOC Stands in Solidarity With All Athletes and All Sports

Much has been written lately about the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s finances. Some of these…

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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There hasn't been a week like this in sports politics, not for a long time.

To summarise:

The third son of a deceased Middle Eastern monarch announced he would run against a long-entrenched West European incumbent for the Presidency of the world's most powerful single-sport federation.

Much of this Arab prince's support is expected to come from Western Europe; leading sports power brokers in the Arab world have, meanwhile, pronounced in favour of his European opponent.

It was suggested that two countries which are still technically at war might co-host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The suggestion was quickly rebuffed, but it raised a faint echo of the at times farcical negotiations involving the same two ideologically-divided countries, North and South Korea, in the run-up to South Korea's first Olympics in 1988.

The world's only superpower announced the city that will bid to stage the planet's pre-eminent multi-sports event nine years from now.

Against expectations, it chose sports-crazy Boston - a city where less than two years ago, three people were killed and more than 200 injured by bomb explosions near the finish-line of the world's oldest annual marathon.

Overshadowing everything else of course was the shooting atrocity that left 10 journalists/cartoonists and two police officers dead in the city that is likely to be one of Boston's chief rivals in the race for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.

It would be wrong to draw too many conclusions before more is known about the perpetrators and their motives, but the message for believers in freedom of expression was utterly chilling.

I was glad that International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach saw fit to issue a statement laced with emotion.

Though often criticised, the IOC has done its bit for press freedom in more illiberal corners of the world over the years.

More to the point, the Games's very ethos as an event where the world gathers, competes under agreed ground-rules and - most importantly - lives under the same roof for a few magical days/weeks acts as a powerful antidote to the ignorance on which bigots and fascists feed.

If there is a Paris bid, Charlie Hebdo would have - will still no doubt lampoon any trace of extravagance or pomposity with unbridled glee.

But intelligent, clear-headed criticism - however uncomfortable for individuals – is, of course, a vital component in keeping institutions grounded and moving in the right direction.

If there is a memorial service, or other secular official event, for those murdered, the IOC should be represented - I would argue by the chair of its Press Commission, who just happens to be the chairman of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).

Only last week I asserted that France needed something to jolt it out of the morosity into which it had fallen and speculated whether a Summer Olympic bid could provide the electricity to flick the switch.

Well in the grimmest, most despicable way, the Charlie Hebdo gunmen seem to have stirred a deep-held, you might say instinctive, sense of human solidarity, potentially far more powerful than the displays of national solidarity that followed France's World Cup victory in 1998.

The scenes in Place de la République show very movingly that, when it really matters, the French capital can still summon a potent, quick flaring, spirit of community.

Provided - and this is critical - that the urge to identify and chastise scapegoats can be resisted, the defiant togetherness unleashed by Wednesday's hideous events could provide a real national lift.

It should also give all of us pause for thought about matters of security in a world in which relatively soft targets, such as high-profile road races and satirical magazines, are apt to come under attack.

As experts told me after the Boston bombings, but as common sense would also attest, 100 per cent security is simply not possible.

Our best bet for long-term safety, that being the case, while remaining vigilant and protecting flagship institutions and events with all resources we can muster, comes not from consenting to ever more state snooping or encroachments on the very civil liberties that set liberal societies apart from repressive ones, but from safety in numbers.

If the bombers and gunmen can see that when they do strike, opposition to what they stand for is reinvigorated and multiplied, then eventually, if they are rational, they and those who control/incite them will devise new strategies.

That's what Je suis Charlie means.

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