Mikee has inside track in IOC race

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Sep 14 2012 02:24 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2012 10:25 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Equestrian champion Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski will enjoy the inside track if and when a replacement is needed for Frank Elizalde who is stepping down as International Olympic Committee representative to the Philippines.

Elizalde is pushing 80. His term as IOC representative to the Philippines ends on Dec. 31, 2012. It started in 1985 or five years after the death of his predecessor, Jorge B. Vargas.

Elizalde is the chairman of the powerful nomination commission of the IOC. He said that prevents him from recommending anyone as his possible replacement.

“Ironically I’m the chairman of the nomination commission of the IOC. I’m not allowed to nominate anybody. It’s not for me to make a recommendation,” said Elizalde.

That doesn’t mean he can’t say good things about the 38-year-old Cojuangco-Jaworski, winner of the gold medal in the individual show jump competition of the 2002 Busan Asian Games.

“She has the qualifications. She’s already involved in sports not just as a former Asian Games gold medalist. I think she is with the athletes committee of the OCA (Olympic Council of Asia).

“I think she is highly qualified and being a female helps. The IOC wants 20 percent female (members) and right now I think we’re at 18 percent,” said Elizalde.

He also confirmed that Cojuangco-Jaworski, daughter of POC chief Jose Cojuangco Jr., has already had initial talks with IOC representatives regarding a possible nomination.

“She was in London for the (2012) Olympics. And she was interviewed by a staff from the IOC. It was not official but that’s a good sign,” said Elizalde, adding that the POC has the right to nominate Cojuangco-Jaworski.

“But the POC cannot demand,” said POC spokesman Jose Romasanta, fully aware that the final say will be on the IOC Session (the General Assembly).

There are 204 countries under the Olympic Movement but there are only 109 IOC members/representatives, 32 honorary members and an honor member. This means the IOC does not have a representative in all member countries.

Therefore, when Elizalde formally steps down in 2013, it’s not automatic that the IOC will have to choose and elect a replacement for Elizalde.

“Actually, there’s no guarantee that she or anybody will succeed me,” said Elizalde, who failed to mention that there are other names being mentioned as his possible successor.

They are Ricky Vargas, president of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines and grandson of the former IOC representative to the country, and fencing chief Celso Dayrit, former president of the Philippine Olympic Committee.

“There are some qualified members in this country -- people with sports background in one form or another, an administrator or an athlete,” said Elizalde.

Elizalde said a nominee should speak either French or English or both.

In short, there’s a possibility for the IOC not to name a replacement for Elizalde who said that formal nominations as IOC members have a shelf life of four years.

If one’s nomination is not approved in four years, one can re-apply for another four years.

“There are some who have been there (nominees list) for 12 years like one from Venezuela being nominated three but as of now wala (nothing). If I were them I would take it as a hint and not re-apply,” said Elizalde.

Elizalde said it’s too early to talk about it.

“Like I said, there’s really no concrete basis to make a big story out of it. It’s something that is not guaranteed by any means,” he said.