FORMER Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis will deliver a presentation on sport diplomacy at the International Centre for Protocol and Diplomacy’s global online conference, on Monday.
Lewis, an advocate against racial and gender-based discrimination, is one of over 25 speakers who will address hundreds of professionals from over 55 participating countries.
This year’s theme is The Role of Diplomacy in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – 2030 Agenda.
The objective of this conference is to utilise modern diplomatic potentials and to foster the achievements of the 2030 agenda, particularly for peace-building, prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
Lewis said, “Achieving the sustainable development goals, the 17 currently at risk, if you look at the global and country (TT) level, with the high crime and economic challenges, the SDGs are at risk.
“The important of the SDGs to the poor and vulnerable and in regard of poverty eradication, under genuine and sincere inclusion and diversity within the society, it’s imperative, given all that is happening.
“The role and the power of sport to be part of the change is critical and therefore, when you look at the question of sport diplomacy and diplomacy in general, and the role it plays in conflict resolution, it’s an aspect that is underplayed, underestimated and undervalued, especially here in the Caribbean and TT, in particular, where we still see sport as recreational and a hobby.”
He believes this opportunity to speak on the role of diplomacy in the achievement of the SDGs, with a focus on sport diplomacy, in respect of social justice and human rights, is a privilege, honour and challenge.
“It’s also about representing TT on a different forum and it’s recognition by the organisers of the role that sport can and should be played in working towards the achievement of the SDGs. It’s a responsibility and challenge which I’m happy to embrace.”
Lewis also thinks his invitation to speak is clear recognition of his advocacy on issues like women in sport, gender and racism, and other related elements.
“It’s also an important appreciation by the organiser to the advocacy I’m doing. But time is not on our side. All the things that impact the risk of not achieving these goals have an impact on sport.
“Sport must make its voice to be heard as it relates to the power of sport to make a positive difference and change, to enhance sustainable development.”
Lewis recently successfully lobbied the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to rescind its life ban on former American athlete Vince Matthews, 74, after he and Wayne Collett, now deceased, protested against racial discrimination at the 1972 Olympics.
Despite never meeting the men, Lewis championed the cause, telling Newsday last December that sometimes it felt like he was the lone voice in the wilderness.
Describing their ban as an injustice, he added, "I would hope or believe that if it were a Caribbean athlete, somebody would pick up the cause."