It has been over a year since Mario Vázquez Raña passed away.
His death in early 2015 left a major vaccum at the head of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) which he had led for almost exactly 40 years.
Since then, veteran administrator Richard Peterkin has been one of the names bruited about as a possible candidate for the PASO presidency, with elections likely to be “between December and February.”
An International Olympic Committee member since 2009, former president of the Saint Lucia Olympic Committee, former PASO treasurer, and an accountant by training, Peterkin has been named as a candidate before in 2012.
Whereas he is yet to formally announce his candidature, and may not do so unless he can be confirmed as the consensus Caribbean candidate, Peterkin did clear one hurdle (or dodge one bullet) earlier this week.
At the 41-nation body’s Extraordinary General Assembly, it was proposed that candidates for the presidency must have come straight from being in senior leadership positions at PASO or their local Olympic organisations.
Had that measure been passed unamended, Peterkin would have been one of those excluded from contention, having stepped down as Saint Lucia Olympic Committee president in 2013.
As is, should the 67-year-old decide to throw his hat in the ring, he would more than likely need the backing of Keith Joseph, general secretary of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Olympic Committee, and José Joaquín Puello of the Dominican Republic, both of whom have in fact announced their candidacy.
It is felt that Peterkin’s IOC membership could be a bit of a trump card, though he is close to the age limit of 70. He is also treasurer of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
Obviously, the Saint Lucian leader is yet to disclose his manifesto, but it is known that he is in favour of introducing full-time officers to run the affairs of PASO. He has spoken passionately in the past about working to increase athlete participation and to increase the number of young administrators in the sport.
Speaking to a “consensus-style” leadership, Peterkin has stayed away from big pronouncements, but he has tabled the notion that PASO needs to have external assistance to boost its marketing and communications efforts. “The big issue,” he says, “is communication.”
The success of the Caribbean candidate may hinge on whether the region’s multilingual, multicultural members vote as a bloc, numbering 20 in total. It may also depend on whether there is one candidate or two from South America, with a Chilean already in the race, and a Brazilian poised to enter.
Most casual observers in the Western hemisphere are counting down to the Olympics, but in the corridors of sporting power, there is an entirely different set of clocks ticking.