Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

Intervention in sports, not the proper role for opposition

Commentary | 2017-07-16 02:14:18
Intervention in sports, not the proper role for opposition

By Abdul Salam Haj Bakri

(Zaman Al Wasl)- The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces has not been content with all its shortcomings on different fronts over the past years and intervened in sports to create shortcomings there too. 

The free sports scene in Syria is shared by several sports entities operating in this field. The General Authority for Sports and Youth, to which 37,000 athletes are athletes members, is the largest entity and the most active. Many of the sports federations, for different types of sport, are included under it. It has also formed executive sports committees in some Syrian provinces. Two months ago, the Authority became subordinate to the Syrian Interim Government, after having been associated with the government based on a memorandum of understanding.

-Formation, Dissolution and Relaunching-

The Coalition was not satisfied with being outside this field and insisted on forming a sports entity entitled “Syrian Olympic Committee,” on May 13, 2016. Following its formation, two members immediately withdrew from its leadership. Also, a woman was listed as a committee member, but she was unaware of this, and when contacted by Zaman al-Wasl, she asked: “What does the Olympic Committee mean?” 

The Coalition quickly discovered the imbalance in its urgently formed Committee. A month after it was formed, the Coalition issued a decision to dissolve it. They did not stop there but reformed the Committee with limited changes in names in February 2017. The same woman who was unaware of her inclusion on the Committee was still listed as a member despite her migration to Europe. The Committee members are distributed in Syria’s neighboring countries. The Committee relaunch was not problem free as Thaer al-Awad, a committee member, also withdrew shortly after it was reformed. 

-Inside and Outside Syria-

Mudar Hammad al-Assaad, vice president of the First and Second Committees, described the formation as an opportunity for athletes to enter international competitions. He said that the international sports championships rely on Olympic Committees.

Regarding the Olympic Committee’s rocky start, he said that this is normal for all newly formed committees, and the Committee will work to avoid further disruption. He explained about their meetings with the General Authority for Sports and Youth aimed at uniting their work and emerging with joint visions for sports.

Speaking about the Committee and its activities, al-Assaad pointed out that its activities “are concentrated in Turkey, and five clubs are subordinate to it”. He pointed out that the executive committees inside Syria are also subordinate to it.

It is worth noting that Olympic committees generally are based on sports federations for all types of sports, but no sports federations are subordinate to the Coalition’s Committee. 

Futile Dialogue-

A delegation from the Coalition and the Olympic Committee met with representatives of the government and the Sports Authority to discuss how to overcome the legal imbalance between the two entities where is subordinate to the government and the second to the coalition.

It was agreed to give the two parties a period of 15 days to reach a solution overcome this problem. Maysar Mahmoud, the Sports Authority Secretary General, pointed out that the Committee’s delegation members were not flexible, and tried to impose their vision on the Authority.

A source in the Sports Authority said that it is preparing to hold a general sports conference in which athletes from all the games will participate, and will elect, “not through appointment”, a free Syrian Olympic Committee. All the federations and executive committees operating within the framework of the Authority will be subordinate to this Committee. 

Between an entity here, a committee there, society or a union elsewhere, sports work is divided “like military and political action,” and the results are the same with all parties losing out. 

It must be mentioned that the International Olympic Committee allowed some Syrian athletes to participate under its auspices in the Olympic Games held in Brazil last year. The Syrian athletes participated alongside other athletes from countries experiencing conditions of war and displacement.

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