Mario Vázquez Raña passed away earlier this month at the age of 82.
The veteran Mexican entrepreneur and sports administrator led the Pan American Sports Organization from 1975 until his death. He also served on the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) until 2012.
Now, the question has arisen as to who will succeed Raña. A number of candidates had already been lining up, with elections set for 2016, in the knowledge of the president’s failing health.
Carlos Nuzman, PASO’s second vice president, is from Brazil; Ivar Sisniega is another Mexican; and José Joaquín Puello from the Dominican Republic, are all names being thrown into the hat.
One dark horse candidate is IOC member and former president of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee, accountant Richard Peterkin. Peterkin, a former PASO treasurer, has been named as a candidate before in 2012.
This time, with elections far from imminent, there is an outside chance that he could run. The 66-year-old has gained a lot of supporters in recent years, but if he is to make a run, it will call for the Caribbean member nations to rally behind him as one.
Peterkin, who is also Chairman of Saint Lucia’s Local Organising Committe for the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games, has been fulsome in his praise for Raña, who he said turned PASO into “a machine,” allowing it to fund National Olympic Committees for the Pan Am Games and Olympics. “I always respected his instincts,” said Peterkin, “because he always seemed to do the right thing and certainly things that benefited PASO and Olympic Solidarity in particular.”
Should Peterkin contest the PASO presidenct in 2016, or even late 2015, he is likely to make increasing athlete participation and increasing the number of young administrators part of his platform.
Happily, PASO’s most pressing immediate concern – the 2015 Toronto Pan American and Parapan American Games – looks to be in good shape. The eyes of the world will again be on the Pan Am region in 2016, with the Olympic Games set for Rio de Janeiro. It’s setting up to be a very interesting period for the Americas, with leadership of the hemisphere’s major sporting body among the most interesting of subplots.