Canadians among IOC member nominees
By NEIL DAVIDSON -- Canadian Press
Canada's presence on the International Olympic Committee could be second to none come September.
Former Olympic sailor Paul Henderson and fellow Canadian Bob Steadward were among 14 candidates put forward for election Friday for IOC membership.
If Friday's nominations go through, Canada, Switzerland and Italy will each have five IOC members. The U.S. will have four.
Add in Toronto's James Worrall, one of 19 honourary IOC members, and the Canadian number swells to six. Only Switzerland, which also has an honourary member, could match that.
"It's just a wonderful day for Canada," said Carole Anne Letheren, an IOC member and chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Association.
The IOC, which currently has 113 members outside the honourary representatives, is adding new delegates as part of reforms instituted after the bribery scandal involving Salt Lake City's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Games.
In what should be a formality, the 14 nominees will be submitted to a vote by the full IOC at its Sept. 11-13 general session in Sydney, Australia. A simple majority is sufficient for approval.
"Unless there's some huge groundswell of opposition against some of them, I'd be surprised if they didn't all make it," said IOC vice-president Dick Pound, a Montreal lawyer.
In addition, eight athletes will be elected by their peers to the IOC in September in Sydney.
New members will be elected to eight-year terms. They lose their IOC seat if they reach the new age limit of 70 or if their term as sports administrator back home ends during that time.
Henderson, from Toronto, is president of the International Sailing Federation while Steadward, from Edmonton, is president of the International Paralympic Committee.
Henderson, the former head of Toronto's failed '96 Olympic bid, found himself in the news peripherally during the Olympic scandal investigation when he said that he had employed the son of an IOC member in his plumbing firm and let him live in his house. But Henderson said he did it as a favour for a former sailing colleague rather than an IOC member.
"Not a factor," said Letheren.
Steadward was born in Eston, Sask., but has made Edmonton his home. He is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and the Order of Canada. He is founder and director of the Rick Hansen Centre, a multi-disability fitness and research facility located at the University of Alberta.
Among the 14 nominees was Kip Keino, the former Kenyan distance running great who is president of his national Olympic committee. Keino won Olympic gold in the 1,500 metres at the 1968 Mexico Games and the 3,000-metre steeplechase at the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Not a single woman was nominated in the list of 48 candidates.
The executive board expressed its disappointment and assigned vice-president Anita DeFrantz of the U.S. to look into the matter. The IOC currently has 13 women members, including two Canadians.
From a list of 48 candidates, the IOC executive board nominated eight leaders of national Olympic committees and six heads of international sports federations.
Letheren, Pound and former runner Charmaine Crooks are Canada's current IOC members.
Should Canada's presence jump to six, a third will be female, "in an organization where there are very few females," Letheren noted.
"Four out of six are Olympians," she added.
In addition to Henderson, Pound competed in swimming in the 1960 Games while Worrall took part in track and field in 1936. Crooks, a 400- and 800-metre runner, was a four-time Olympian (1984, '88, '92 and '96).
Worrall (1936) and Crooks (1996) were Canadian flag-bearers at the Olympics.
Letheren also noted that Canadians could be among the first wave of athletes (Crooks) and Paralympic representatives (Steadward) on the IOC.
"It certainly shows leadership in a number of fields," she said.
Letheren also pointed to Pound, widely seen as a future candidate for IOC president, as being a key factor for Canada in the IOC.
"I feel Dick plays a huge role internationally and I feel his influence is felt in many ways. I also think it's because we have good people.
"Paul Henderson has done an extremely good job with the sailing federation. He's certainly known worldwide for his efforts to try to bring the Games to Toronto. I think there's some positive fallout from that."
Canadians are also making their presence felt in other sports in the form of Bob Storey (bobsled/luge), Adham Sharara (table tennis) and Les McDonald (triathlon), who all head up the international governing body of their sports.
IOC members elected before 1966 are members for life. Others must retire by the end of the calendar year in which they turn 70, unless they were elected before Dec. 11, 1999. In that case they must retire at age 80.
Honourary members attend IOC meetings and Olympic Games but do not have a vote.