Pan American Vote Carries On Sans President

(ATR) Elections proceed as PASO chief convalesces. Brian Pinelli reports from Bangkok.

(ATR) Despite the noticeable absence of its president, members of the Pan American Sports Organization vote in Bangkok for some key international positions.

PASO president Mario Vazquez Rana remains in Mexico while his colleagues from the Americas gather in Bangkok for the general assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees. Vazquez Rana, 82, has been recuperating for months following surgery for an undisclosed illness.

His illness caused the cancellation of a PASO general assembly in September a week before the meeting, necessitating the rescheduling of the elections held today in Bangkok. The meeting was chaired by Brazil NOC president Carlos Nuzman.

Up for grabs were seats on the ANOC executive council, for which PASO and the other four continental NOC associations elect their representatives. Uruguay NOC president (and FINA president) Julio Cesar Maglione was re-elected for another term as ANOC vice president while Marcel Aubut of Canada, Keith Joseph from St. Vincent and Jose Quinones from Peru won seats on the council.

Maglione was elected by reclamation with 40 of 41 PASO NOCs in attendance, while Aubut, Joseph and Quinones all were all elected on the first ballot vote.

In opening remarks at the PASO gathering, first vice president Ivar Sisniega spoke of his fellow countryman Vázquez Raña.

"I can tell you Mario is recovering OK. He underwent a difficult operation, but he is 100 percent OK in his mind," Sisniega advised. "He’s going through a difficult rehabilitation process. He sends you his greetings. He would like to be here."

"We are very happy with the leadership of the president Mario Vázquez Raña," Nuzman told Around the Rings, despite the rumblings in the Americas over Vazquez Rana’s capricious management style and whether he has the capacity to lead PASO after more than 30 years at the helm.

"He is one of the greatest leaders in sport, in the Olympic movement for decades and we are sure that he will recover from the surgery and stay with us," Nuzman said. "That is very important to keep the unity in PASO."

Nuzman is one of a handful of possible successors to Vazquez Rana when he eventually leaves PASO.

Maglione, 78, is not one of them, telling the PASO delegates after his re-election that this will be his last four-year term in the post.

"I am planning to be at your disposal and carry out your propositions," Maglione said. "I have been in this organization from the beginning and it has been some of the happiest times in my life."

"We are a big family and the transformation that will take place in the future will be in the spirit of harmony," Maglione added.

In the secret ballot election following Maglione’s affirmation, Aubut received 32 of a possible 40 votes, while Quinones had 31 and Joseph 22.

Neven Ilic of Chile, Henry Nunez of Costa Rica and Eduardo Palomo of El Salvador came up short in their bids to win seats.

Underscoring the lurching direction of PASO, it was announced in Bangkok that PASO will try to hold another general assembly, January 11-13 in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, site of the meeting that was canceled in September. No agenda has been mentioned, but final preparations in the lead-up to the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, July 10-26 will likely be a major item of business.

ANOC president Sheikh Ahmad and IOC president Thomas Bach paid a visit to the PASO assembly, as they did for the other continental associations which met in Bangkok on the eve of the November 7-8 ANOC general assembly.

"Thank you for all your support PASO, and I wish the best to Mr. Vázquez for a healthy recovery," Sheikh Ahmad said.

Ahmad took over as ANOC president in 2012 after Vazquez Rana resigned to avoid a power struggle over who would be his successor at the organization. In 2012, Vazquez Rana turned 80 and had to relinquish his IOC membership. He was also under pressure to do the same with the ANOC presidency.

Bach also delivered his best to Vazquez Rana.

"I hope very much in January that your president will be back and in good health. I would really like to send him my best wishes."

Written and reported by Ed Hula and Brian Pinelli in Bangkok

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