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(ATR) The Pan American Sports Organization begins the new year with the race for its next president.
Five men are currently in the running to take over the reins of the organization that is seeking to increase its prominence within the Olympic Movement.
The contenders are: Brazilian Olympic Committee president and Rio 2016 chief Carlos Nuzman, Chile Olympic Committee president Neven Ilic, St. Lucia NOC president and IOC member Richard Peterkin, St. Vincent and the Grenadines general secretary Keith Joseph and former president of the Dominican Republic NOC Jose Puello, who also led the 2003 Pan Ams in Santo Domingo.
The official notice to file comes in January, so the final field of nominees could be much different than this list of hopefuls. The election takes place April 28 in Uruguay.
Peterkin, Joseph and Puello say they have a "gentleman’s agreement" that only one will be on the final ballot representing the Caribbean region.
The election will set the term of the first permanent president of PASO in two years. Since the death of Mario Vazquez Rana in 2015, Julio Maglione of Uruguay has served as an interim president by virtue of his senior vice president status. While originally expecting to serve for only another year, Maglione, 82, has remained in the post while the statutes of the organization were revised and modernized. Vazquez Rana had led PASO for 30 years, putting a stamp on the organization that the reforms may erase.
The new statutes were finally approved at the heels of the ANOC General Assembly in November, paving the way for the presidential campaigns to begin.
The new statutes and their delayed acceptance exemplify PASO’s need to modernize its organization. PASO is examining the expansion of its multi-sport events, contemplating the addition of the Pan American Beach Games and Pan American Youth Games, formats that have proven successful in other continental associations.
The next PASO president will seek to raise the profile of its flagship event the Pan American Games, with the next edition being held in Lima, Peru in 2019. There is also talk of moving the PASO headquarters from Mexico City, possibly to Miami for the convenience of its delegates.PASO represents 41 NOCs in the Americas.
The outcome of the April 28 vote will certainly be influenced by some key players from the sidelines. The biggest member of PASO, the U.S., with chairman Larry Probst and secretary general Scott Blackmun are in a prime position to increase U.S. continental influence, especially with the Los Angeles 2024 bid in progress.
Canadian Olympic Committee president Trisha Smith has settled in as the new COC president and is now an IOC member.
Any of those three North Americans could mount a formidable bid for the PASO presidency, should they choose.
From the Caribbean, another IOC member, Nicole Hoevertsz of Aruba is an important PASO leader who could also make the jump to president, one of few IOC members in the PanAm region who has been actively involved with the organization.
In Latin America, Eduardo Palomo of El Salvador, Jose Quinones of Peru and Ivar Sisniega of Mexico will be influencers in the presidential race.
The PASO leadership no longer has links to the IOC as it once did. Maglione retired from the IOC two years ago, while Vazquez Rana had been an IOC member for 23 years at the time of his death.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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