Exclusive: Keith Joseph Withdraws as PASO Presidential Candidate

(ATR) The race for the president of the Pan American Sports Organization is down to three candidates.

(ATR) And then there were three candidates for the Pan American Sports Organization.

Around the Rings can confirm that Keith Joseph, secretary general of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee, sent a letter withdrawing from the PASO presidential race. The letter was sent to all Caribbean National Olympic Committees and to the PASO office in Mexico City. Attempts to reach Joseph through the SVGOC were not successful. Staff members say he was out of the office travelling.Speculation about Joseph’s withdrawalfrom the presidential race had been circulating for months.

In the letter Joseph says he is withdrawing in the "collective best interest," of the Caribbean sports movement. He thanked everyone that supported his candidacy, and cited his "original belief that the bigger picture takes precedence," in this instance.

Joseph was one of two Caribbean candidates running for the presidency, but now Joaquin Puello of the Dominican Republic remains the only candidate from the region. Last month Richard Peterkin of St. Lucia dropped his campaign for the presidency.

Along with Puello, the remaining candidates for PASO president are Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Nuzman and Chilean Olympic Committee president Neven Ilic.

Joseph is still a nominee for re-election as aPASO vice-president but faces Sara Rosario Velez of Puerto Rico on the ballot.

The Caribbean bloc of 22 PASO members had hoped to present a consensus candidate in an effort to win the presidency. PASO has a total of 41 member NOCs. The region made its voice heard during debate of revised PASO statutes, attempting to change voting procedure on the presidency to a one country one vote model. Ultimately, a different voting procedure was adopted that gives some weight to countries that have hosted a Pan-American Games.

The new PASO president will be elected at an Extraordinary General Assembly in Punta del Este, Uruguay on April 26. The presidency has been held on an interim basis since 2015 by Julio Cesar Maglione of Uruguay, first vice president at the time PASO leader Mario Vazquez Rana died after 30 years in office.

Written by Aaron Bauer

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