This past October a dispute arose between Right to Play and the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee (VANOC), however it seemed inevitable at the time the issue would resolve itself due to the negative light that would be shed on all parties involved if such a charitable foundation was blocked. A foundation that actually sprung from the Olympic movement by Olympic athletes.
In the end it appears that events went from bad to decidedly worse for the Toronto based, sports oriented foundation. The Canadian Press announced today that the IOC has decided Right to Play, a humanitarian group spreading good will and participation in sport to various regions around the world that may not have the opportunity without such assistance, has been banned from all Olympiads.
The international humanitarian organization Right to Play has been told by the International Olympic Committee it is not welcomed at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, or future Olympics...The ban will continue for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
For a group that places the utmost importance on both educating and securing new athletes to support and contribute to their cause, this can be considered a critical blow. However when presented with the opportunity to attack the IOC themselves, Johann Koss, the President and CEO of Right to Play, decided to take the high road instead.
Koss hesitated when asked if by banning Right to Play, the IOC was violating its own goals.Considering what has recently befallen Vancouver in organizing these Games this will surely not help improve their image. In fact appalling is a pretty good word that comes to mind when one is reminded that the original conflict arose from nothing more than a conflict of sponsors (Right to Play is with Toyota while VANOC has signed on with General Motors...will refrain to comment on who made the better decision there...). And even though the disputed advertising was not key to promotional material, not prevalent on the Right to Play website either, and that this has never been a concern in past Olympics the group has attended dating back to 1994, the recent rift that was created simply could not be repaired.
"I don't want to comment necessarily on the IOC's decision," he said. "We have grown out of the Olympic organizing committee and the Olympic movement.
"This is our history and this is where we belong. I don't want to speculate on the issue and the decision made by the IOC."
So as both the IOC and VANOC claim a rather infamous role in the charitable history books, the IOC is also left to deal with what appears to be quite the hypocritical decision on their part. They should provide a press release as to why they have attacked an organization promoting sport to youth all over the world, but then again communication may not be a strong suit of the IOC.
Koss said his organization tried to reach a compromise.If and when the other side of the story ever comes out then these actions can be judged accordingly, but until then this is just one big disappointment. One can hold out hope, however, that this dispute is resolved in the future so that even if these Games are deprived of this great organization maybe future Olympiads will not. One can only hope...hey at least hope is in fashion right now!
"After the initial discussion with VANOC and the IOC, we did present to them a way where we could work together," he said. "I did not get a response from that. That was five months ago.
"Since then we had not heard anything before I received this letter."
IOC says Right to Play not welcome at Olympic Games any more (The Canadian Press)