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May 24, 2020

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UPCOMING OLYMPIC GAMES

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Controversial proposals to change the eligibility criteria for candidates standing to become the new President of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO), as well as the voting power of member nations, is due to be debated at an Extraordinary General Assembly starting here tomorrow.

Only five items are on the agenda, of which two are the roll call and a welcome message from the organisation's interim President Julio Maglione.

Discussions will also take place on the new proposed PASO Code of Ethics before elections are held to choose a fresh PASO representative on the Association of National Olympic Committees Executive Council following the resignation of Canada's Marcel Aubut amid sexual harassment allegations last year.

Two candidates have emerged to replace him following today's Executive Committee meeting.

They are Hans Larsen and Sara Rosario Vélez, Presidents of the National Olympic Committee of Haiti and Puerto Rico Olympic Committee respectively.

There are no plans to elect new PASO Executive Committee members to replace Aubut or Cuba's Reynaldo Gonzalez, who died last year, however.

The Statute proposals are expected to dominate discussions, with two days having been allocated, although it is possible proceedings could be completed tomorrow.

The most heated aspect concerns a proposes change meaning all contenders for the PASO Presidency and other key positions would have to have served three years’ experience as a “top” National Olympic Committee (NOC) official “immediately preceding” a candidate’s nomination.

If, as expected if it is approved, this would come into force before the election, two likely candidates would be ruled out - Dominican Republic's José Joaquín Puello and St Lucia’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Richard Peterkin - despite both being longstanding former Presidents of their respective NOCs.

This is virtually unprecedented within any sports organisation and is meeting fierce opposition, with a two thirds majority of the 41 PASO nations and territories required.

"PASO has a choice tomorrow to decide whether it wants to be democratic and fair," Puello told insidethegames today.

Peterkin, meanwhile, joked on Twitter that the impending meeting reminded him of the Red Wedding, an infamous moment in television show Game of Thrones which ended in mass bloodshed.

But with each NOC having one vote, controlled by the Presidents and secretary general, it is possible the measure could still be forced through.Image title

The voting distrubution for the election of host cities and elected offices will also be discussed, with the current system, in which countries receive an extra vote for each time they have hosted the Pan American Games, expected to be abolished.

Either a simple "one country one vote" formula is set to be introduced, or a system in which there is a second vote for past Games hosts, but only for elections to determine where future events will be staged.

Other proposals include a three-term - ie 12-year - limit for the PASO President, and a stipulation that the “headquarters registered office” of PASO be in Mexico City, while stating that it may be transferred to another location “by decision of the Executive Committee”.

This comes as the organisation continues its realignment following the death of long-term leader Mario Vázquez Raña at the beginning of last year.

The date of the Ordinary General Assembly in which election to replace interim leader Maglione would be held could also be discussed, with the statutes stipulating that it must be held the year after the Pan American Games, so this year.

It will not take place before the Rio 2016 Olympics, but some figures would like to be held very soon after in September, insidethegames understands, while others are calling for a later date in November or December.

Maglione, also head of the International Swimming Federation, has vowed not to run on a permanent basis.

Those to have confirmed their candidacies are Puello, St Vincent and the Grenadines general secretary Keith Joseph and Chilean Olympic Committee head Neven Ilic.

Rio 2016 and Brazilian Olympic Committee President Carlos Nuzman could join them, although he claims to have not yet made up his mind, while Peterkin is also expected to officially enter the contest at some stage.

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