Lewis aims to boost gender integration

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Lewis, the pres­i­dent of the T&T Olympic Com­mit­tee, was re-elect­ed on the week­end at the CANOC's Gen­er­al As­sem­bly in Haiti, un­op­posed as its head.

"I am a Caribbean man, it is an ho­n­our and priv­i­lege to lead CANOC," said Lewis, who will serve a four-year term un­til 2022.

Lewis was orig­i­nal­ly elect­ed to the role in Bar­ran­quil­la in Colom­bia last year, tak­ing over the re­main­der of Steve Stoute's term af­ter the Bar­ba­dos of­fi­cial re­signed fol­low­ing 17 years in charge.

Lewis will work along­side St Vin­cent and Grenadines' Kei­th Joseph (sec­re­tary gen­er­al), St Kitts and Nevis' Alphon­so Bridge­wa­ter (first vice pres­i­dent), who were both re-elect­ed as well and ex­ec­u­tive mem­bers Alain Soreze of Guade­loupe and Ytan­nia Wig­gins of Bar­ba­dos. Soreze was al­so re-elect­ed un­op­posed while Wig­gins will be serv­ing her first term.

Out­go­ing Trea­sur­er Al­fred Em­manuel (St Lu­cia) and An­gel Morales (US Vir­gin Is­lands) did not seek re-elec­tion due to CANOC con­sti­tu­tion's two-term lim­it. There were no nom­i­na­tions for those po­si­tions so the ex­ec­u­tive can fill those va­can­cies un­til the next Gen­er­al As­sem­bly.

For some time now, Lewis has been very open with his views and ideas on hav­ing greater gen­der equal­i­ty at the Olympic move­ment lev­el and plans to point CANOC in­to that di­rec­tion.

"Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion of Na­tion­al Olympic Com­mit­tee mem­bers need to set tar­gets and im­ple­ment the IOC gen­der equal­i­ty rec­om­men­da­tions," he said, yes­ter­day. "I ac­cept that there are many peo­ple who don't feel set­ting women in lead­er­ship and gen­der equal­i­ty di­ver­si­ty and in­clu­sion tar­gets are the right ap­proach but I hold a dif­fer­ent view.

"It's not on­ly in sport but busi­ness and fi­nance etc that the play­ing field isn't lev­el. It can't be busi­ness as usu­al. I make no apolo­gies for my stance," said a de­ter­mined Lewis, who over the next four years will be seek­ing to have CANOC mem­bers im­ple­ment­ing IOC gen­der equal­i­ty rec­om­men­da­tions.

"I will be pro­mot­ing that the next CANOC pres­i­dent is a woman and for all 80 per cent of CANOC ex­ec­u­tive boards to be gen­der equal. It can't be busi­ness as usu­al," ag­o­nised Lewis. "We need more women in the Olympic move­ment and lead­er­ship po­si­tions."

He plans to work with CANOC mem­bers through fo­rums along with host­ing lead­er­ship and un­con­scious bias aware­ness train­ing.

Ide­al­ly, Lewis be­lieves that the Caribbean Olympic lead­ers have to be in­no­v­a­tive and for­ward think­ing to cre­ate a "big­ger piece of the sports in­dus­try pie for their ath­letes and young peo­ple. We have to unite in our strength. Stand up and use our uni­ty as our strength," he said.

Some of the oth­er ob­jec­tives that the Lewis-led CANOC will be fo­cused on are safe­guard­ing ath­letes and chil­dren from sex­u­al abuse and ha­rass­ment with­in the Caribbean Olympic move­ment, ad­dress the fail­ure of Pan Am Sports to nor­malise the sta­tus of as­so­ci­at­ed mem­bers and do more to as­sist Haiti and the "Sport for Hope" Cen­tre.

Lewis said, "Canoc is ma­tur­ing as an or­gan­i­sa­tion, at 15 years, it's still a work in progress. The next four years is a crit­i­cal pe­ri­od in our his­to­ry."

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