Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Written Evidence

Submission from Mr Ray Carbery, President, Turks & Caicos Islands Olympic Committee (Steering)



  Most of you are unaware that for approximately six years the TCI Olympic Committee has been working assiduously to be recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This quest has been an uphill struggle . . . to say the least.

  Our problem originated at the 1992 Olympic Games, held in Barcelona, when the IOC decided that at the next Olympic Games, in 1996 in Atlanta, the Olympic Charter would be modified and a new rule would be introduced: Dependencies or Territories of Sovereign States would no longer be allowed IOC recognition unless they became independent.

  When the IOC members voted in 1996 in favour of this new rule, they did so with the knowledge that some existing and recognized National Olympic Committees (NOCs), specifically those of Bermuda, Cayman Islands, BVI, Hong Kong, USVI, Guam, American Samoa and Netherlands Antilles, were permitted to continue to be part of the Olympic movement even though they represented countries who were not independent.

  Although no specific provision as been added to the Olympic Charter to justify their continued acceptance by the IOC, the NOCs of these countries, which have the same or similar political status as the TCI, enjoy all the benefits of being a member of the IOC while we continue to be denied this opportunity.

  The TCIOC was formed when the TCI Sports Commission requested that research about IOC membership be undertaken by the Tennis Federation and that they subsequently reported to a special meeting of all National Sports Associations. That meeting was held in Grand Turk on 31 July 2001 under the auspices of the Director of Sports and the Sports Commission. At that meeting the TCIOC was established and a Board of Directors was appointed as a steering committee to investigate how the recognition process by the IOC.

  Since the establishment of the TCIOC all of our attempts to be heard by the IOC, the British Olympic Association (BOA) and the UK's Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) have been unproductive to date.

  The International Olympic Committee; in their few replies to our many enquiries, has steadily maintained that the new rule is written in stone and we just have to resign ourselves to be without a recognized NOC until our country chooses to become independent. We have contended repeatedly that if the rules have been changed once they can obviously be changed again and that there are mechanisms for modification of the Olympic Charter exist, clearly spelled out in the Fundamental Principles which is the backbone of the Olympic Charter. To illustrate our case we provided a nine page Memorandum outlining how they could revisit our case without opening the floodgates. The major question we have . . . why should Bermuda, Cayman and BVI have a recognized NOC and not the TCI? The IOC has refused to accept our challenges basically disenfranchising our youth and our Territory.

  The British Olympic Association; claims to be satisfied with the status quo and chooses so far to maintain a stiff position of neutrality and disinterest in regards to our quest. They have refused to endorse our request for support and have on numerous occasions failed to respond to our letters/emails . . . and a face to face meeting, repeating their stance "they cannot/will not help us". We find their attitude particularly disturbing considering that their executive Olympic Members (Princess Royal, Craig Reedie, Dame Mary Glen Haig), knew ahead of time of the pending change to the Olympic Charter and voted for this change. This disgraceful position has discriminated against our Territory and more importantly our youth. The BOA have violated our Constitution rights along with our Human rights, that is why they have informed us that they can no longer correspond with us on this matter!

  The Foreign & Commonwealth Office; was contacted when we ran aground with the IOC and the BOA and requested their assistance in this matter . . . they replied sorry "there is nothing we can do for you" basically informing to get lost! We asked the FCO the following questions:

    —  Did they know about the pending change of the Olympic Charter in 1996?

    —  If they did . . . did they notify the Territories of this pending change? No . . . why not?

    —  How could they (FCO) allow a Company Limited by Guarantee registered in England & Wales registration #1576093 have Constitutional voting rights over the future of Territories long term goals. They had no clue until we brought to their attention . . . why?

    —  Did they (FCO) review the Olympic Charter and see how this debacle came about. No . . . they did not have a copy of the Charter until we brought to their attention. Why?

    —  Did they (FCO) seek assistance to from the BOA to help change the imbalance of the other Overseas Territories; Cayman. Bermuda & the BVI. No . . . why not? The list goes on and on.

  The FCO have failed their fiducial responsibility and disenfranchised the Turks & Caicos Islands people and their youth. Their inability to bring this debacle to a conclusion has taken us six years to get them off first base . . . only to inform us that we have sour grapes! Lord Triesman Head of the Overseas Territories has not once responded to our letters/emails he fails miserably heading up this important department and has added to the discrimination, the human rights issues and our violation of our constitutional rights of our people and should be help responsibly for his non actions. There are others within the FCO who have taken the same attitude . . ." let's not rock the boat", hence another ongoing challenge for us. Our plight has gone "UN-NOTICED" to the following people (Tony Blair MP, Frazier Wilson FCO, Tom Watson MP, David Cameron MP, Kate Blacker FCO, HRH Princess Royal, HM The Queen, Dr Denis Mac Shane MP; plus a list of countries and worldwide organizations eg UN).

  We have secured legal advice from our QC in London and know exactly where we stand as does the FCO, BOA and the ICO. This is no idle threat from us . . . it is purely a passion for our rights . . . for what we want for the youth of the TCI . . . to stand on the world podium of sport with the rest of the world.

  We do hope that you all see the merits of our challenge, feel the unfairness of our predicament and support our efforts. Thank you for your attention

  Discrimination against people has no place in the world of sport . . . including the Olympic Games. The Crusade continues.


Recognition by the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") Of a National Olympic Committee ("NOC")

The Case of the Turks & Caicos Islands ("TCI")

The Olympic Charter, NOCS and Recognition of NOCS by the IOC

  1.  The Olympic Charter governs the organization and operation of the Olympic movement.

  2.  The criterion for belonging to the Olympic movement is recognition by the IOC.

  3.  The Olympic movement includes the NOCS, when recognized by the IOC.

  4.  In order to promote the Olympic movement throughout the world, the IOC may recognize as NOCS organizations the activity of which is linked to its role. Such organizations shall have, where possible, the status of legal persons in their countries. They must be established in accordance with the Olympic Charter, and the IOC must approve their statutes.

  5.  The mission of the NOCS is to develop and protect the Olympic movement in their respective countries in accordance with the Olympic Charter. The NOCS have the exclusive powers for representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games and at regional (eg Central American & Caribbean Games) Continental (eg Pan Am Games) or world multi sports competitions patronized by the IOC.

  6.  The IOC helps the NOCS fulfill their mission through its various departments and "Olympic Solidarity" (its funding arm for sports development).

  7.  The Olympic Charter, Rules 31 & 32 and the by-laws thereto, set out, define and govern the conditions for recognition of an NOC, its mission, several roles and other relevant matters. From these, the following important points emerge in regard to the recognition of an NOC.

 (a)   The Technical requirements

    (1)  The applicant must submit to the IOC for approval, two copies (in English or French) of its statutes. These statutes must comply with the relevant sections of the Olympic Charter. Note: an attorney drafting the statutes should be carefully briefed; a precedent of the statutes in English of an existing NOC, which have been revised up-to-date to comply with the recent additions to the Charter, approved by the IOC, would be very helpful to the draftsman. Use of a special type of company "not for profit", as no doubt permitted/allowed for the TCI companies Laws, (as in the Cayman Islands) will be suitable.

    (2)  The applicant NOC must obtain from each International Federation ("IF") to which a member national federation (of the applicant NOC) is affiliated, an attestation certifying to the IOC that such national federation is a member in good standing of the IF concerned.

    There must be (at least) five such national federations (members of the applicant NOC) that govern sports on the current Olympic program: these include: Athletics, Football (soccer), Basketball, Sailing, Tennis, Table Tennis, Swimming, Triathlon & Softball those sports are National Associations active within the TCI. The seven sports underlined are already members of their International Federations/Associations.

    (3)  Each applicant NOC, whose statutes have been approved;

    Will provide a copy thereof, to the IOC with a formal request for recognition, and a list of members of its Executive—all documents to be certified as true copies by its President and Secretary General.

 (b)   The "Political" aspect of Recognition

    (1)  In or about 1996, the IOC decided that it would not recognize the NOC of any country or territory that was not a sovereign independent state. However, existing NOCS already recognized by the IOC (eg Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Hong Kong the BVI, Guam, American Samoa, Netherlands Antilles, U S Virgin Islands) whose territories are not sovereign independent states, were permitted by the IOC to continue as NOCS "recognized" and belonging to the Olympic Movement (a so-called "grand fathering" process)

    (2)  The Olympic Charter does not appear to provide a direct and distinct prohibition against the recognition of the NOC of an "non independent state" In Rule 4—the principal rule dealing with recognition by the IOC, and Rules 31 & 32 (+ bylaws) there is no prohibition against or distinction of a non-independent state, for purposes of recognition. There is merely an (added) short Rule 34(1) that states: "In the Olympic Charter, the expression `country' means an independent state recognized by the international community".

    (3)  The effect of Rule 34 (1) is its relationship to Rule 4 (Recognition) and to Rule 31 & 32 (+ bylaws)—(governing NOCS). These latter rules and bylaws make mention several times of the words "country" or "countries" in describing the recognition, the role, duties and functions of NOCS. Thus, the probable interpretation that the Olympic Charter does not now empower the IOC to recognize the NOC of a state that is not an "independent state".

    (4)  A question could well be asked here as to the authority in the Olympic Charter for continued recognition of non-independent territories (listed above) or authority as to their roles, duties and functions. There does not appear to be an actual ("grandfather") provision in the Charter to authorize this continued recognition and function.


  In the event that the NOC of the TCI shall be unable in the near future to obtain the essential "recognition" by the IOC, the youth and sport of the TCI will undoubtedly suffer significant and really unnecessary hardship, for reasons as follows:

    (a)  TCI will be prevented from joining the Olympic Movement and thus taking its rightful place amongst the family of sporting nations. This will have occurred principally because TCI, along with other smaller countries in its region (eg Bermuda, etc), is linked to the UK as a British Overseas Territory, but one that is effectively self-governing.

    (b)  Virtually all the smaller islands, territories and countries of the PAN AM or Caribbean Basin region benefit from IOC recognition of their NOCS. Since many have the same exact political status as the TCI, the absence of TCI is a truly significant exception!

    (c)  The present, and growing population of TCI is of size approximate to the BVI, San Marino, the Cook Islands and Nauru (smaller) and perhaps others, with Liechtenstein, Monaco, Cayman Islands and others, only slightly larger. Those territories or countries all have recognized NOCS.

    (d)  TCI is in need of development aid, advice and funds. However, non-recognition by the IOC will prevent its NOC from receiving the now-significant funding from Olympic Solidarity. This has been increased recently by the IOC and is perhaps worth near to USD $100,000 per annum for coaching, development projects, administration expenses, and scholarships (etc)-all really needed by TCI.

    (e)  Non-recognition by the IOC, will also exclude TCI from all the excellent educational and cultural aspects of the Olympic Movement. TCI will also be unable to benefit from a much-needed IOC course for sports administration.

    (f)  Non-recognition will have the effect that the NOC of TCI will not have the right to attend meetings of PASO, CACSO, ANOC and of NOCS meeting with the Executive of the IOC. It will be cut off from the information, advice and fellowship to be gained at all such assemblies of sports nations.

    (g)  TCI will suffer from the unfortunate inconsistency (however unintentional) of the IOC recognizing the NOCS of some non-independent states but not the NOC of TCI.

    (h)  There is no dispute over sovereignty or ownership of TCI, as between any other countries, as was apparently the case with certain other smaller countries or territories—such disputes the Olympic Movement may have wished to avoid.

    (i)  The athletes of TCI and other British Overseas Territories compete for their own country and not for Britain. The case of some French Islands such as Martinique and Guadeloupe is quite different, as they are apparently part of France itself, and can compete for it.

    (j)  Non-recognition of the TCINOC will in effect, "disenfranchise" the youth of TCI from most benefits of, and participation in world sport. It will be very difficult to explain to them why this is so. Choosing just one of our good neighbors for comparison purposes: In what are we different from British Virgin Islands?

    (k)  With respect, it is not the place or purpose of the IOC or the Olympic Movement to formulate or influence the political system of a country or territory. Certainly the IOC should not wish or endeavor to tell a country "when you become fully independent we will accept you into the Olympic Family" Such would be completely extraneous to the fundamental principles of Olympism!

    (l)  It is understood that a significant reason behind the IOC's decision that, in future, it will only recognize the NOC of an "Independent State", is its desire to avoid any involvement in any political or other conflict that might arise when a province or a section of a larger country, seeks to "breakaway" and/or to establish its own borders and/or identity (and hence might also seek to have its own NOC recognized by the IOC.)

  This reasoning should not be applied against the recognition of the TCI NOC. The case of the TCI is quiet different, fundamentally so! There is no conflict or dispute, political or otherwise, with any country; there is no "breaking away" from a larger country.

  Similar to Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the BVI, all within the same Pan American region, TCI have been a separate territory by identity, world known, with its own self-government, its own passport issued to its citizens, its own flag, its own postage stamps, and moreover, it does not share any boundaries with any country, nor does it lie within any larger Country-its chain of islands are separated by sea from all the nearest other Countries.

  Being a small territory, like the other three islands named above, TCI peacefully and properly elects to remain within the "British Family", and hence it is termed as a "British Overseas Territory".

  TCI is a member of the Commonwealth Games Federation. TCI athletes have competed under its own flag and in their own colors and uniforms in the CARIFTA Games (since 1978) and in the Commonwealth Games (since 1978). TCI has its own national Football team and is a member of CONCACAF and FIFA since 1998.

  In addition to the NOCS of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and the BVI, the NOCS of the (American) Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Hong Kong and the Netherlands Antilles-none of which are known to be "Independent States", are nevertheless "recognized" by the IOC. Surely the case in favor of the "recognition" of the TCINOC would be just as fair and sensible, as for those eight NOCS!


  Since the Second World War almost all of the former colonial countries have now become independent and the IOC has already recognized their respective NOCS. The few existing British Overseas Territories, including TCI, are a small exception; of these three of the main ones are already recognized. Recognizing the NOC of TCI will hardly open a "floodgate" of applications for recognition. The few other very small dependent territories would find it difficult or impossible to meet the requirements of entry to international sport.

  It is highly recommend that the IOC, as part of its new and revised approach to world sport, in this new millennium, should seriously consider an appropriate amendment (probably slight) to the provision in the Olympic Charter relating to the recognition of NOCS, especially those of non-independent territories or countries. Such amendment should enable the IOC, in its discretion, to recognize an NOC in a case such as that of TCI provided of course, that all the technical requirements have been complied with.

  It would appear to be necessary, (or, be good sense) to make a slight amendment to the Olympic Charter. This amendment could be made in order to duly authorize the continued recognition by the IOC of several territories that are non Independent States, but whose NOCS were recognized prior to 1996. If, making this amendment, it would be timely, and it is suggested, appropriate, to give also to IOC discretion, in future, in the matter of the recognition of a NOC of a non-independent state.

  It is respectfully suggested that the IOC should consider an added provision-perhaps to Rule 4(1) of the Olympic Charter, stating (in effect) that "In the case of the NOC of a territory or country that is not a country as defined by Rule 34, the IOC may nevertheless, in its sole discretion based upon the circumstances of each case, recognize the NOC of such territory or country that is not an independent state-and the IOC may continue the recognition already granted to the NOC of such a territory or country".

  If this recommendation shall be accepted (as a small amendment to the Olympic Charter) and then appropriately approved by an annual Session of the IOC, then the Olympic Movement will indeed have continued to fulfill one of its fundamental principals:

    "The goal of Olympism is to place EVERWHERE sport at the service of the harmonious development of man, with a view to encouraging the establishment of a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity . . ."

Development of Sport in the Turks & Caicos Islands Becoming a Member of the Olympic Family

Recognition by the IOC

  The Turks & Caicos Islands ("TCI") are certainly developing, so is their sport. More facilities are planned, with a Football Stadium being built.

  Seven National Associations of Olympic sports, Athletics, Football, Basketball, Softball, Swimming, Tennis and Triathlon are constituted, active and members of their International Federations. Other active Olympic sports associations are proceeding towards membership of their IF's: Sailing and Table Tennis. TCI has competed at the Carifta and the Commonwealth Games for years. Our National Football team has competed internationally in the region for the past few years.

  TCI now has a National Olympic Committee ("NOC")—The first step is to apply for and obtain RECOGNITION by the International Olympic Committee ("IOC")—this recognition being the criterion for belonging to the Olympic Movement, from which many benefits will ensue.

  The "Technical" requirements for recognition by the IOC can be satisfied by TCI. The Charter of its NOC is being prepared carefully to comply with the Olympic Charter. BUT there stands in the way a (most unfortunate) "political" requirement: Circa 1996, the all—important Olympic Charter was amended affecting the matter of "recognition" of NOC's—A "Country" is now defined as: " An Independent State recognized by the International Community".

  By choice, TCI remains a "British Overseas Territory". Though self-administrating it is not an "independent country".

  Prior to 1996, the IOC recognized—and indeed continues to recognize—the NOCS of some territories that are not "independent states"—eg: Bermuda, BVI, Cayman Islands (similar territories to TCI), also American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, Guam—and, Hong Kong and the Netherlands Antilles.

  The principal reason, (we are reliably informed) for the ban on non-independent countries seeking "recognition" by the IOC, was the IOC's wish to avoid involvement in political disputes between an existing country and an aspiring "breakaway" province (eg Quebec, Basques, etc)—The case and circumstances of TCI, surely are in no way related thereto:—A separate territory, with its own identity and administration it does not seek to "breakaway".

  Belonging to the Olympic Movement secures many essential benefits, especially to a developing territory:

    (i)  Financial assistance—almost US $75,000 or more per annum from Olympic Solidarity/IOC and other games sources for coaching and development purposes;

    (ii)  Games—"Recognized" NOCS only can enter teams to the Pan American, Central American & Caribbean and Olympic Games, each held every four years;

    (iii)  Meeting attendance—Important international organizations: ANOC, PASO, CACSO are restricted usually to representatives of "recognized" NOCS—significant information, advice and fellowship to be gained at these regular assemblies;

    (iv)  Educational & cultural—valuable aspects of the Olympic Movement;

    (v)  National pride—in taking ones place within the Family of Sports Nations; and

    (vi)  Most important, the resulting aspiration of the youth to improve their standards towards the Olympic games levels!

    To prevent the "recognition" by the IOC of the NOC of TCI would be harsh and unnecessary, and, indeed unfair.

    TCI's growing population is the same or larger than the BVI, San Marino, Cook Islands, Nauru, and Monaco, and is almost the size of others—all with NOCS presently recognized by the IOC.

  Desired solution—To persuade the IOC to consider, and hopefully to grant recognition of the NOC of TCI.

  If the IOC's response is favorable, it would appear that it might be necessary for the IOC to make a small amendment to the relevant section of the Olympic Charter, whereby the IOC would be given a discretion in the matter of "recognition" of the NOC of a non- "independent state", depending on the circumstances of each case.

  This amendment would have the further advantages of giving the IOC the constitutional authority to:

    (i)  Continue to recognize the NOCS of the non Sovereign States that were previously recognized.

    (ii)  Use its discretion to guard against excessive or insignificant attempts to seek recognition by the NOCS of non Sovereign States.

  The Olympic Charter tells us, "The goal of Olympism is to place EVERYWHERE sport at the service of the harmonious development of man . . ." It is our respectful hope and prayer that the IOC will assist us, to enable us to effectively place sport at the service of the development of the youth of the Turks & Caicos Islands.

4 September 2007

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