by Michael Bascombe at Pan Am Games 2015
TORONTO, July 21, 2015 – Sir Austin Sealy, who founded the Junior CARIFTA Games, believes it’s time for the organisers to revert the Games to a multi-sports format, thereby providing better organised competitions for junior talents across the region.
Sir Austin, a Barbadian and one of the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said that the five-year experiment worked well during the 1980s until track and field decided to go it alone. (Watch Video Interview)
“I think it’s a golden opportunity to return CARIFTA to the experiment we had between 1985 and 1989, when it was multi-sports,” Sir Austin told GrenadaSports in an interview in Toronto on Monday.
“One of the reasons it led me to convert it from athletics only to multi-sports is that I become the NOC President in Barbados after Moscow 1980 and I didn’t think I should be devoting all my attention to track and field. I was the President of that body as well. It was a unilateral decision to expand it to seven other disciplines. We worked well for five years. Those editions were held, firstly in Barbados in ‘85, then Trinidad, Guadeloupe, Jamaica and it came back to Barbados in ‘89 and that’s when the track and field bodies decided they want to return, as they say, to do their own thing.”
He said that the region needs more competitions and it’s probably an opportunity for the Caribbean Association of National OLympic Committees (CANOC) to become an organising partner of the CARIFTA Games.
“I salute the swimming federations, indeed boxing and cycling federations which attempted to continue as separate competitions in their respective disciplines. Swimming has maintained the event.
But I think the region needs more competitions, starting at the junior level. And CARIFTA is a ready-made vehicle perhaps for the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees to adopt, improve wherever necessary and the sponsors could find the product attractive not perhaps on a one-off basis but there is need for some continuity,” he said.
In supporting more sporting competitions for the Caribbean, Sir Austin said that organisers must also decide on the participation of other countries in the Central American and Caribbean family, namely Cuba.
“The authorities must decide whether they want to include more of what is the Central American and Caribbean family. We don’t necessarily want to duplicate CAC Games but competition is good.”
The Barbadian sport administrator said that competitors should take advantage of the Pan American Games since it’s a major qualifier for the Olympic Games.
“I think that most of the Caribbean territories would rank Pan Am as perhaps the pinnacle of their preparation for going to the olympic games. The Pan American Games this year, here in Toronto, qualifying events for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio. So a lot of importance is attached to these games by the Caribbean,” said Sir Austin, who is attending his 12th Pan American Games.
Sir Austin, who is this year celebrating 21 years as a member of the IOC, has announced plans to step down as treasurer of the Commonwealth Games Federation, a post he has held since 1986.
IOC member Sir Austin Sealy of Barbados discusses the importance of the Pan American Games to the Caribbean, and the future of the CARIFTA Games in this interview with Michael Bascombe of GrenadaSports.
Sir Austin was among officials attending a media breakfast organised by the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) in Toronto on Monday July 20, 2015.