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National Sports Associations’ (NSAs) Reaction to Gambia National Olympic (GNOC) Press Briefing of 24th November 2020

Nov 30, 2020, 11:28 AM

The GNOC held a press briefing on 24th November 2020, which many would have regarded as a GNOC Annual General Meeting (AGM), with only the media present.

At the press briefing, the GNOC Secretary General’s report on the activities of the GNOC Executive Board was presented, leaving many to wonder on the appropriateness of the forum for such presentation, knowing that only one AGM was held in four (4) years.

While noting that it was only a press briefing, it has however failed to  address the concerns raised by  the seventeen (17) out of twenty-seven (27) NSAs that have signed a letter dated  6th. October 2020and addressed to the GNOC President (see below), nor did itprovide answersto the questions raised during the NSA press conference of Friday 20th November 2020.

The letter of 6th. October was written in reaction to the GNOC’s President declaration on the Standard Newspaper of 28th September 2020 that the GNOC Elective Congress was put on hold,as instructed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), until after the TOKYO 2021 Olympic Games.  It is important to clarify that the IOC letter of 23 April 2020, which is being alluded to have contained “the instruction” to put on hold the GNOC Elective Congress until after the Tokyo Olympics 2021, wasnever circulated or brought to the attention of the NSAs,which represents an unethical act from the GNOC management.  Furthermore, as incorrectly construed, the IOC letter was issued as a guidance for all National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to either:

  1. Follow the four-year term of office and hold elections by the end of the four-year term of office i.e. prior to the Tokyo Games in 2021, OR
  2. Follow the Olympic cycle and hold elections after the Tokyo Olympic Games, now taking place in 2021.

Following such guidance from the IOC, the decisionto opt for any one of the two options above remains the prerogative of theGNOC General Assembly.

Therefore, we question the approach adopted by the GNOC, and for the Board to decide on continuing their mandate till after Tokyo 2021 which is a blatant disregard of the GNOC Constitution, Article X and continuation of this mandate mustbe sanctioned by the GNOC General Assembly.

While we appreciate the exceptional circumstances caused by Covid-19, openness and consultations should have been upheld during the process, which would have allowed for the convening of the GNOC General Assembly to decide on this and other matters. It is clear there was no “instruction” from the IOC, and we are therefore calling on the GNOC to uphold the Constitution.

The NSA letter to the GNOC President reads:

6th. October 2020

The President

Gambia National Olympic Committee

Bertil Harding Highway

Mile 7, Bakau

Dear Mr. President,

RE: Request for Nomination Forms and Notice for 2020 Elective General Assembly

This request letter is written to you by the undersigned National Sports Associations (NSAs) pursuant to the Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) Constitution Article VIII subsection 8.1 (c) which states that the General Assembly shall hold special meeting (the congress) every four years to elect members of the Executive Board and Article X paragraph 4 which states that nomination forms shall he sent to all voting members of the General Assembly no later than 40 days prior to the Elective General Assembly together with the notice for the meeting.

We would like to bring to your attention that an Elective General Assembly, in accordance with GNOC Constitution Article 8.1 (c), should be convened on 4th November 2020 and nomination forms and the notice for the meeting, in accordance with GNOC Constitution Article 10 paragraph 4, should have been received by 26th.September 2020.

Considering the GNOC Executive Board’s disregard of its constitutional mandate, we hereby demand receipt of these forms and notice, within 72 hours from the date of this letter, otherwise this blatant negligence will be brought to the attention of higher authorities both locally and abroad.

We expect this request to be treated with utmost decorum.

Executive Director, National Sports Council (NSC)

President, Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA)

Presidents NSAs

Going by the pretext that majority of the NSAs voted in favor of the 21st. October 2020 GNOC (Res)-2020-001), we would like to bring to your attention the manner in which those votes were invalidly canvassed from the NSAs.

  1. Gambia IOC Member and Vice President of World Baseball/Softball agreed twice to the resolution. The IOC member was retired by the IOC on 17th July 2020 but was granted the status of Honorary Member and therefore has no voting rights now.  If this resolution were presentedat a normal Congress, the retired IOC member would not have been able to vote and every member will be entitled to a single vote.
  2. The Secretary General of the Gambia Swimming Association agreed to the resolution whilst he is physically out of the country. TheGNOC Constitution does not have a clause that allows proxy or absentee voting, therefore the Swimming SG should not have been allowed to vote.
  3. Presidents of four (4) NSAs, namely Basketball, Taekwondo, Boxing, and Primary School Sports signed the NSA letter of 6th October 2020 (see above). How come the GNOC resolution was signed by the Secretary Generals of the same four mentioned Associations and not their Presidents, who were in the country at the time?  Three Presidents wrote to the GNOC revoking their SG signatures.

During the GNOC press briefing, the media questioned the GNOC SG on the same issue on point 3 above, and he responded by saying:

“GNOC (Res)-2020-001) was sent via email to NSAs and the SGs respondedwhich the GNOC has no control over.  Signatures are irrevocableand the Presidents that protested cannot revote their SG’s signatures”.

The GNOC (Res)-2020-001 has a tactfully embedded clause which states that signatures are irrevocable.  One can see that the GNOC (Res)-2020-001 drafters anticipated Presidents to be contesting the signatures of their respective SGs when it comes to their knowledge, so they embedded that irrevocability clause into the resolution.

Then again, if the GNOC can selectively reach out to NSAs via email, how come the IOC letter of 23rd. April 2020 was never circulated to the NSAs via email?  The GNOC kept quiet about this letter until the NSAs knew about it.  That was when they hurriedlyconvened a Board meeting on 17th October 2020 and passed these so-called resolutions and ballots.  This is unacceptable to the concerned NSAs.

  1. When one of the journalists asked whether GNOC was recognizing Gambia Triathlon Union in order to justify their vote? He responded that it was World Triathlon that wrote to GNOC, date unknown, requesting confirmation of the affiliation of Gambia Triathlon Union to the GNOC.  The GNOC on 16th November 2020 replied to World Triathlon confirming their affiliation, this was after the President of the Gambia Triathlon Union had already signed the GNOC resolution of 21st. October 2020.Records show that Gambia Triathlon Union was approved by the GNOC General Assembly during its 2018 AGM meeting, the only AGM held in four years, so why did the GNOC accept the signature of a President of an Association that was not affiliated to its international body?

Again, what a coincidence for the World Triathlon to be suddenly interested in seeking confirmation from the GNOC after three years have passed since its approval by the GNOC General Assembly and at a time when elections are looming?

  1. On the so-called Covid funds: NSAs have every right to know whether the GNOC benefited from the IOC approved envelope of up to USD 800 million to address the Covid-19 Crisis, of which an aid package of up to USD 150 million was allocated to the Olympic Movement, including the International Federations, (IFs), The National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the IOC-recognised Organisations, to enable them to continue their sports, their activities and their support to their athletes.   This enquiry was raised during the NSA conferenceof Friday 20th November 2020 and all we wanted to know was whether it was true or not, and if true, how much did the GNOC receive and how the money was spent?  If the explanation of the GNOC SG on this enquiryis anything to go by, then the members will have the opportunity,at the next General Assembly, to verify this when the budget and the audited accounts are circulated.
  2. The President of Gambia Judo Federation is listed as KINTE Kinta on the International Judo Federation website. Why would GNOC accept the signature of Timothy Colley as the President, whilst he is not recognized by the International Judo Federation as the President of Gambia Judo Federation?
  3. If GNOC elections were held today, would the current GNOC SG qualify to be nominated for any position in the Executive given that he does not belong to any NSA now?The GNOC Constitution Article XI Subsection 11.1 paragraph 2, states that the President and all other office bearers, must at the time of their election and or appointment, be a delegate of a member (NSA).

The above revelations clearly indicate why the GNOC Executive is adamant on holding the elections after the TOKYO 2021 Olympic Games.  The GNOC Executive needs to be reminded that they were elected into office by the members of the General Assembly, being the highest decision making body within the Gambia National Olympic Committee as per GNOC Constitution Article VIII Subsection 8.1., and they have an obligation to answer to its members, especially when there is evidence of inherent incompetency and inefficiency within the office.

In the interest of bringing our national sports together and the in spirit of upholding the values of Olympism, we hereby challenge the GNOC Executive to present its Resolution at an in-person General Assembly where voting will be free, fair and transparent, so that this impasse can be laid to rest once and for all.

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