Confusion exists regarding functioning protocol of international sports bodies

TIM MUNNINGS, Director of Sports

Earlier in the year, the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) seemingly broke the long-standing international jurisdiction code by involving the Government of The Bahamas, through the Ministry of Sports, in a member body matter, I was told.

National Director of Sports Tim Munnings disclosed to me that AIBA had contacted the Ministry of Sports regarding the executive infighting that was going on in the Bahamas Boxing Federation. Even when we talked about the matter, Munnings sounded surprised that AIBA had taken such a step.

International parent sporting bodies, through the years, have insisted that governments stay out of the day-to-day operations of member bodies. That, in fact, is the understood code. Only in totalitarian societies which are ruled by a dictator or a regime, has the opposite to democracy been allowed to exist.

When AIBA strayed, it set off a confused situation. Understandably, Director Munnings and others now have to wonder about the international sports protocol. Especially with the government expected to fund, in large part, regional and international sport hosting and representations, it is easy to relate to a Bahamian Minister of Sports, and on through the line of the Cabinet of The Bahamas, trying hard to adopt full government involvement in all national sporting discussions.

The correct version of international sports protocol, however, does not work that way. AIBA if it acted as alleged, and, did in fact bring the Ministry of Sports into the local federation’s controversy, was out of order and sent a message that could result in total confusion going forward as the national sporting fraternity seeks to have a positive relationship with central administrations in The Bahamas.

There is a national track record of correct international sports protocol.

All and sundry are invited to consider the following:

For more than four decades, the International Baseball Federation (IBF), despite the deterioration of its member body in The Bahamas, maintained the international sports protocol and did not entertain successive Governments of The Bahamas, getting involved with any degree of control. There were meetings when government officials were allowed, but only for the purpose of suggestions and encouragements.

The same situation played out when there was an eight-year fight within the National Olympic Movement. The International Olympic Committee stayed strong to the position of letting its member body work out the issue.

I can speak from a personal international sports protocol matter. Many years ago, during my presidency years in the inaugural amateur boxing body in the country, at one general elections meeting, a representative of a particular group stood up and informed that they were sent by the Member of Parliament, (a leading sports figure at the time), and authorized to nominate for executive positions.

With full support of the executive, I refused to accommodate them and subsequently, they left the meeting. AIBA accepted the results of the elections and the local boxing body continued on as per usual, with the development of local amateurs, succeeding in making history with Olympic participation and subsequently winning the first international boxing medal for The Bahamas.  

Unfortunately, this present AIBA version has allegedly broken protocol, while other international parent organizations have remained consistent.

For instance, a bid for The Bahamas to host the 2021 International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Relays must, via international sports protocol, go through the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations (BAAA), which through courtesy and a partnership arrangement could/would bring the government to the table.

There is no doubt that the correct international sports protocol is still in effect. The Bahamas Olympic Committee, I am sure can vouch for the same.

To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup504@gmaul.com or on WhatsApp at 727-6363).

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