By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE relationship between the Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) and Youth, Sports and Culture Minister Lanisha Rolle has become tenuous, with members now demanding she either sit down for formal talks or be removed as minister.
BOC Secretary General Derron Donaldson yesterday insisted the organisation’s current position is not political or discriminatory.
He said despite the organisation’s willingness to move past several issues, things remain at an impasse.
Mr Donaldson asserted that an immediate resolution is needed if all sides are to move forward amicably.
The state of Mrs Rolle’s relationship with BOC was first highlighted by Progressive Liberal Party Leader Philip “Brave” Davis, who yesterday at his party’s monthly press briefing called on Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis to immediately intervene.
Mr Davis suggested that it would be “unnecessary and foolhardy” for Mrs Rolle to pick a public fight with local sporting organisations and BOC.
He said while the Official Opposition wouldn’t immediately move to call for her removal, it viewed Cabinet intervention as critical to the overall state of sports in the country.
“It appears that (Mrs Rolle) is ignoring the federations… in keeping with what appears to be a policy of this government to shut out sports culture and you know, only weigh in when there are successes in these areas,” he said, pointing to what he referred to as a lacklustre response to the Carifta team’s recent success.
“When it comes down to dealing with the processes to be able to get those successes, and deal with the administrators who worked tirelessly, selflessly and very often without pay to see to those successes, the government turns a blind eye, a deaf ear and it appears that it’s business as usual, and we don’t need to pay no attention to you or hear you,” Mr Davis insisted.
Meanwhile, when contacted yesterday, Mr Donaldson claimed that since being moved to the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mrs Rolle has refused to build a relationship with the various sporting federations.
Mr Donaldson said things came to a head following Mrs Rolle’s decision to travel to Yokohama, Japan, last month for the 2019 IAAF World Relays without seeking BAAA accreditation.
Mr Donaldson said procedures and protocols mandate that state officials seek accreditation at a national level via that country’s national sporting body, which would then write its international counterpart to arrange all formal aspects of the trip.
“You see, that did not happen,” he told The Tribune. “She travelled by virtue of an IAAF invite without note to the BOC president. That’s not protocol at all. Added to that, she took meetings there and didn’t even make an attempt to arrange to have the local sporting bodies, on the ground for the event, present at those meetings.”
Mr Donaldson continued: “We wrote her on this and in her response letter she said she was not subject to, or bound by, any agreement of protocol relative to the BOC. We as a sporting community demand more and we deserve more. Hence our position.
“We accept that she may be unaware of certain things relative to the post of minister of youth, sports and culture, that’s why we are asking that she sits down with us as we look to fix the issue.
“But if she isn’t interested in doing that, then we can move to the next step. But this is all up to her,” he added.
When asked if Mrs Rolle has shown a willingness to sit down and hold talks with the BOC, Mr Donaldson said to date, she has not given any indications.
In the letter referenced by Mr Donaldson, Mrs Rolle wrote that ministers are committed to Cabinet meetings on Tuesdays and therefore, it would be inconvenient and not customary to schedule meetings on that day.
However, she didn’t make any further recommendation for a meeting date.
Mrs Rolle was one of four Cabinet minister reassigned last July, going from social services and urban development to youth, sports and culture.
While in her former role, Rights Bahamas called for her resignation after she asserted that marital rape should be viewed as a private issue.
The remark came as a shock as she is the only woman in the Cabinet and it was made at a time in when the government was facing pressure to amend laws to protect the rights of women.
Mrs Rolle could not be reached for comment yesterday.