(ATR) This week’s election of a new president and nine new executive committee members demonstrates that the Pan American Sports Organization is ready to make major changes.
The elections concluded Wednesday in Punta del Este, Uruguay with Chilean Olympic Committee president Neven Ilic chosen to take the helm of PASO and several new faces elected to help him increase the relevance of the continental association. Ilic says he is excited to join and develop a "big family like PASO".
Changes to the leaders of the family include two new vice presidents and five other executive committee members that did not serve in the previous PASO administration.
Secretary General of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee Keith Joseph is the only one of the three vice presidents to retain his position. He is joined in vice presidency by Mexico Olympic Committee chief Carlos Padilla and Argentina Olympic Committee vice president Mario Moccia. Padilla will serve as first vice president from Group One, Moccia the second vice president from Group Three and Joseph remains third in line in Group Two.
Padilla and Moccia are replacing Ivar Sisniega and Carlos Nuzman, respectively. Sisniega was appointed by Ilic to replace Jimena Saldana as general secretary while Nuzman fell short of the only position he was seeking - the presidency.
The other changes on the executive committee reflect a large shift in the countries represented in the leadership.
In Group One, Scott Blackmun of the U.S. Olympic Committee retained the position previously held by USOC chairman Larry Probst, while the additions of Alain Jean-Pierre and Silvia Gonzalez give the NOCs of Haiti and Costa Rica representation in PASO. Jean-Pierre and Gonzalez are replacing Eduardo Palomo of El Salvador and a vacant chair formerly held by Marcel Aubut of Canada.
Group Two remained mostly intact with Veda Bruno Victor of Grenada and Alphonso Bridgewater of St. Kitts and Nevis keeping their chairs. They are joined by Puerto Rico Olympic Committee president Sara Rosario Vélez who lost against Joseph for the position of vice president. Vélez takes over for Michael Fennel of Jamaica.
The final group also added two newcomers with Camilo Pérez López Moreira of Paraguay and Kalam Azad Juman-Yassein of Guyana joining IOC member from Aruba Nicole Hoevertsz. Moreira and Juman-Yassein are replacing Ilic of Chile and Peru Olympics chief Jose Quinones, leaving no representation for Peru on the executive committee as hosts of the next Pan American Games in 2019.
The new leadership takes office during a period of challenge for those Pan Am Games in Lima. With two years to go until the event, there is great concern about the pace of construction work especially for the Pan American Village, aquatic center and other key venues not yet built. Ilic’s background in the construction industry may be just the sort of expertise to help Lima get through these tough times.
Richard Peterkin, IOC member in St. Lucia, will return as treasurer. An auditor by background, Peterkin held the position until he fell out of favor with Vazquez Rana in 2012 and Danilo Carrera took over.
With elections out of the way after two years of reforms, the 15 members of PASO’s new leadership can now focus on modernizing and professionalizing PASO. This includes the opening of new offices in Miami, Florida, the strengthening of the Pan American Games and the creation of a new logo.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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