A very interesting article regarding athletes declining performances in Canada in relations to the inordinate amount of money spent on the local Olympic Committee, has led many to wonder if this is going on in St. Lucia. The article drew reference to the fact that “In Canada, more than two dozen world-class athletes were so hard up for support that they resorted to launching crowdfunding campaigns to supplement the money they receive from government and perhaps corporate sponsors.” The assertion here is that these athletes were by and large left to fund themselves, while their Olympic committee members were pocketing astronomical amounts of money.
Perhaps the most astonishing statement in the article was the fact that IOC President Thomas Bach, a former German fencer, is called a “volunteer” [who] receives an annual “allowance” of US$251,000, plus other perks. The IOC pays for his suite at a luxurious hotel in Lausanne that is listed at more than US$1,000 per night.
Shouldn’t our athletes be afforded that sort of treatment. We have heard the cry that not enough money has been pumped into support for Levern over the years. Despite the constant request to have Levern’s coach be present at her event, her coach Wayne Norton, had to pay his own way to get to Rio. The St. Lucia Olympic Committee did not spend money on what should be considered a basic request. In addition to this, not even coach Norton’s accreditation was was provided by the St. Lucia Olympic Committee! So, the question is, what is the money truly used for? Who makes more money for putting in all the hours of training on the track, the gym, and on flights all over the world. Who makes the money after an entire island falls on ones back for failing to attempt two of your three jumps? Who makes more money? I guess we can never fully know!
We should not be afraid to ask the relevant questions regarding sports development on island that persons are often afraid to ask. For instance, as an island we are yet to see any transparent information of how much money is spent annually on payments to St. Lucia Olympic Committee members who travel around the world yearly, in comparison to the amount that is spent on local athletes with the talent to perform on an international level. Why is this information so difficult to track down? We know that when on IOC business, members are allowed to fly first class, stay in luxury hotels and receive large per diems: US$450 per day for regular IOC members, and US$900 per day for IOC executive members. That’s not bad for showing up and speaking!
You see, we should not be afraid to ask why it seems that individuals who have been there for more than ten years seem to be playing musical chairs on the executive of our Olympic Committee. The great “Volunteer” seems to have great difficulty letting go of whatever benefits are interred within this organization. Are St. Lucians not curious as to why a seating Minister of Sport refuses to let go of a position at the very helm of the local Olympic Committee. Despite the many calls for this individual to step down, despite the cries of conflict of interest, despite the volume of work and attention required by a minister of government, no resignation is in sight. Is the money and perks that good?
Yet, we put pressure on our athletes. We ask what happened to Jeannelle Scheper at the Olympics, instead of asking how much assistance did she get with her injuries leading up to the global event. We go on Facebook and bash Levern, and ignore the fact that she for years had to do it all alone. The opportunity to medal at the Rio Olympics is certainly gone, but, the reason this medal eludes us is certainly not because Levern Spencer has not been trying.
The views expressed in this article do not reflect the views of the management and staff of St. Lucia Sports Online.
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