Arrindell says no to joining Dutch or Aruban Olympic delegations

POSTED: 07/13/11 12:02 PM

St. Maarten– Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport Rhoda Arrindell is not supportive of St. Maarten athletes being part of either the Dutch or Aruban Olympic teams. She made that position clear at a press conference on Tuesday, where she acknowledged up front that the decision lies with the sporting organizations.

“I strongly don’t believe that St. Maarten’s future lies or that anybody other than St. Maarten can determine what is best for St. Maarten, so the position to go under the Netherlands or Aruba is not one that I would support as minister. At the end of the day you discuss it with the stakeholders and you formulate a position that is in the interest of all, if not the majority, but I honestly don’t believe that it’s in the interest of St. Maarten athletes to go under the Netherlands or under Aruba,” Arrindell said.

The decision does not lie with the minister and she intends to hear from the sporting organizations how they feel on the matter and then leave it to them to decide how to move forward as the recognition by the International Olympic Committee is for a sporting body within a country, and not for the political establishment.

One of Arrindell’s first chances to discuss the decision taken by last week’s IOC Congress in South Africa was at a meeting with President of the St. Maarten Sports Federation Aartwicht Bell. She expects the ruling will also come up at a meeting with sports organizations that she’s set for 5:00 p.m. on Thursday in the Dr. A.C. Wathey Legislative Hall at the Government Administration Building. The agenda currently has four points: sports in school, increasing participation in sports, 2011 Sports Conference and Kingdom Games 2013.

Support

While St. Maarten Sports Federation had decided early on that they’d “concede defeat” if the IOC Congress took a decision not to allow them to join in the wake of the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles, Curacao continues to press for recognition. St. Maarten has supported that push as long as it does not affect St. Maarten’s ability to apply in the future.

“If Curacao succeeds, and we know that it is a very difficult feat to accomplish, it makes it easier for St. Maarten in terms of opening the doors to be recognized. However the position taken by the Olympic Committee is one that I respect. I don’t think it is a wrong position. You have to be independent to sit at the table with independent nations and I think this is just one of the many things where we in St. Maarten have to carefully consider how our non-independent status affect our real possibilities in a lot of different areas,” the minister said.

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