Muscat: Oman is a leader when it comes to upholding the values of the Olympic spirit and observing fair play and true sportsmanship.
That’s according to John Coates, the director of the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (ICAS), which is holding their bi-annual meeting in the Sultanate, the first time. “We recognise that in Oman, you have legislation to establish your own sports tribunal for national disputes, and we recognise that in this regard, Oman is a leader, certainly among the Gulf countries, and across many parts of the world,” he said.
“It is critical that the athletes want a level playing field, and that the sports they participate in are conducted according to the relevant rules. They want to know that their sports are administered properly.”
“We were invited here by Oman’s National Olympic Committee, and we normally have two council meetings every year. We try to take one of those meetings around the world, and we accepted the invite to come here,” added Coates. “I would advise all athletes in Oman to be confident that they are practising sports in a country that respects its integrity.”
“From everything I have seen here, that is the case, and if there are any disputes, I am sure the athletes here will take comfort in the fact that these will be resolved swiftly,” added the Australian. “Very few cases have come to trial in Oman, and I realise that this is because when everyone sits down, there is a reputation here for being friendly and not at all aggressive.”
Eighteen of the 20 members of ICAS had come to Oman for the meeting, which was only the second of its kind in the Middle East.
“It is important for us to connect with the National Olympic Committees of the member nations of Olympics throughout the world,” said Matthieu Reeb, secretary general of the ICAS. “One of our annual meetings is always held in our headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, and we use these meetings to create strong bonds of friendship with our host nation and reaffirm the values of the Olympic spirit.”
“We are here in Oman to discuss the best way to stop doping and discuss new anti-doping strategies, so it is good to get the perspective of local people, and also look to absorb some of the local culture here,” added the Swiss.
“We have heard about the friendliness and hospitality of the Omani people, and so far, that reputation is very true: we have been treated very well here and I look forward to experiencing more of Omani culture.”
Many top Arab officials were present at the event, chief among them being Khalid Al Zubair, the head of Oman’s Olympic Committee, Sheikh Saad Al Saadi, Oman’s minister for Sports Affairs, and Sheikh Fahad Al Sabah, the president of the Olympic Council of Asia.
“We are really honoured to have the members of the ICAS here with us,” said Al Saadi, speaking at the event.
“We are also very honoured to be hosting such an important meeting. As we have said many times, sport is a very important element of society and it is very important to develop it, because these things go hand in hand. We are also grateful for all the assistance that has been provided towards the setting up of our own committees.”
“Oman’s Olympic Committee is very happy to be working side by side with the government and the ministry has really provided us a lot of our finances and assistance for our systems,” added Al Zubair.
“They work really hard when it comes to arbitration, to pass the highest laws in Oman, to ensure that these are not part of the regular courts, but are part of the sporting process, because these laws apply equally to everyone.”