President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), Brian Lewis, stated the TTOC’s role in the selection of athletes for this year’s Olympic Games in Brazil.
Speaking to the media on the recent barring of local gymnast, Thema Williams, by the Trinidad and Tobago Gymnastics Federation, from competing in the Olympic qualifier in Brazil, Lewis clarified that the TTOC is the body that determines whether the Olympic spot is accepted or not.
Williams was replaced by Marisa Dick, who went on to qualify in the event after flying in the night before to represent Trinidad and Tobago.
The International body, Lewis said, now has to write to the TTOC asking if they will take up the spot.
Lewis said there is precedence in other countries where Olympic Committees have turned down spots.
“At the end of the day, it is the TTOC that has to answer. There have been two instances where TTOC was taken to the high court and the Equal Opportunities Commission on the basis of decisions taken by NSOs,” he said.
He pointed out that the gymnastics spot is now under the jurisdiction of the TTOC and his body has the final decision per the Olympic Charter that states that NOCs have "exclusive authority for the representation of their countries at the Olympic Games."
Lewis said his organisation will be guided by its legal team on this matter.
Dick nabbed the country’s first Olympic spot in Gymnastics on Sunday after she was hastily summoned to replace Thema Williams who officially qualified to compete in the Test Event at the 46th World Gymnastics Championships in October. Williams placed 59th with a personal best of 52.466 while Dick placed 77th.
The TTGF says it made the decision to oust Williams following an email from her coach John Geddert criticising her performance at practice.
Geddert, in a subsequent email to TTGF President David Marquez following that decision, accused the TTGF of reading “between the lines to find the excuse you feel is justified for making the change that several have always wanted to make.”