The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Mr Shaw Kgathi, says good relationships between National Olympic committees, sports associations and governments are of paramount importance in the development of sports in the country.
Speaking to Standard Sport on his recent trip to Acapulco, Mexico, where he attended the World Olympic Sports Convention, Kgathi says this is even more so in developing countries where government funding is the mainstay of sports.
He says in his address to the convention, he raised concern that governments funding sports in their respective countries have obligation to see if funds are spent accordingly. He says governments have social and economic obligations to develop their people even through sports.
Kgathi says in Botswana’s case, 85 percent of the total sports funding is derived from the government.
“We thus cannot neglect our accountability to the nation and let corrupt practices and lack of democracy within sports,” Kgathi told Standard Sports.
He further says unlike in developing countries, sport in developed countries is funded by companies which make them independent of government. He says the convention helped clarify between issues of government interference and government intervention.
“We came to an understanding that government interference refers to meddling in issues relating to governance. If we tell sports bodies who to elect into their offices or when to hold an election, that is interference,” Kgathi said.
He, however, said auditing the books of sports bodies or intervening to stop corrupt practices within sports bodies is not interference but is corruption.
The Minister further added that challenges existing between sports bodies and governments are most of the time influenced by clash of personalities rather than real issues.
The Convention, a first of its kind, was held on Saturday 23rd on the fringes of the XVII General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
It was convened with the intention of providing a platform for Ministers of Sport from across the world to engage in dialogue with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to facilitate good working relations between governments and NOCs.
In addition to discussing the basis for and the importance of good cooperation between governments and NOCs, other key issues covered at the convention included, inter alia, the Fight against Doping; the Role of the Olympic Movement in the Protection of the Environment; and Women, Sport & Social Development.