IOC wants Sascoc elections 'as soon as possible'

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says Sascoc facilitator Sam Ramsamy's “highly respected personality and very long experience within the Olympic movement in South Africa and internationally … and the fact that he is on site‚ will no doubt help Sascoc find a mutually acceptable solution with all parties concerned to resolve the ongoing issues and finalise this election process".
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach says Sascoc facilitator Sam Ramsamy's “highly respected personality and very long experience within the Olympic movement in South Africa and internationally … and the fact that he is on site‚ will no doubt help Sascoc find a mutually acceptable solution with all parties concerned to resolve the ongoing issues and finalise this election process".
Image: Martin BUREAU / AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) wants the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) elections to happen “as soon as possible”.

The IOC‚ with the backing of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)‚ appointed veteran sport administrator Sam Ramsamy to facilitate elections at the umbrella body.

“The IOC has been following the situation of Sascoc very closely over the past few months to help Sascoc resolve the internal issues and disputes it has been facing and ensure that elections can take place as soon as possible‚” IOC president Thomas Bach wrote in a letter addressed to Ramsamy.

Bach also sent the letter to Sascoc.

The Sascoc ballot had become a thorny issue in the past few months‚ with at least 29 member federations‚ led by Canoeing SA‚ demanding elections and the board refusing to accede to their request.

The Sascoc board‚ which should include eight elected and four co-opted members‚ has shrunk to five — two elected and three co-opteds following retirements‚ resignations and the suspension of acting president Barry Hendricks.

The sixth member is the chair of the athletes’ commission‚ held by Natalie du Toit‚ although her appointment is being contested in court as irregular.

There are also two ex officio members who serve as IOC and IPC members.

“In view of the ongoing situation‚ and in order to provide further assistance to Sascoc in this process‚ the IOC has decided‚ with the support of the IPC‚ to appoint you [Ramsamy] to work closely with Sascoc and to supervise and facilitate the process leading to the elections‚ in order to ensure that these can be conducted shortly and smoothly‚ in close consultation and co-operation with all the parties concerned‚ in particular the member federations and the relevant sports authorities in South Africa.”

The Sascoc board‚ led by acting president Aleck Skhosana‚ welcomed Ramsamy’s appointment and will continue its work until the poll‚ acting CEO Ravi Govender said.

The vote was supposed to be held on March 28‚ but was postponed indefinitely because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The stand-off between the Sascoc board and the federations in favour of elections had grown acrimonious.

After the Sascoc board had rejected the call for administrators to replace the executive and usher in the election‚ Canoeing SA declared a dispute.

The Sascoc board dismissed that too.

Canoeing SA approached the IOC during the stand-off‚ which resulted in Skhosana sending an irate letter to the federation.

Sport minister Nathi Mthethwa had asked the IOC and IPC to intervene to force elections in early April‚ but his request was declined at the time.

Hopes of an early election appeared thwarted recently when the Sascoc board cancelled its own general meeting scheduled for July 4‚ citing the lockdown restrictions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Some federations had suggested holding the election on a virtual platform‚ but the Sascoc board had rejected this idea‚ saying the IOC had discouraged an online ballot.

Ramsamy was unable to say if a virtual ballot would be feasible‚ telling TimesLIVE he still had to consult all parties.

One issue that is likely to be debated is the reopening of nominations.

Nominations officially closed at the end of February‚ but already sports officials are wondering whether they need to start the process from scratch because of the delay in the elections.

“Your highly respected personality and very long experience within the Olympic movement in South Africa and internationally … and the fact that you are on site‚ will no doubt help Sascoc find a mutually acceptable solution with all parties concerned to resolve the ongoing issues and finalise this election process‚” Bach said in his letter to Ramsamy.

“Already now‚ I wish you the very best of success in this role as facilitator.”


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