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Blas beat out candidates from Palau, PNG, Samoa

By Steve Limtiaco

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 7, 2009) - Ricardo Blas, the head of Guam’s Olympic organization, now is secretary general for the entire 17-nation Oceania region.

Blas was elected to the position during the Oceania National Olympic Committee’s general assembly in Queenstown, New Zealand, last Tuesday, beating candidates from Palau, Papua New Guinea and Samoa.

He is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organization, which distributes about US$14 million each year to help member nations develop their Olympic programs and athletes and hold qualifying events.

"The entire administration, representing the entire 17 countries in Oceania, is now administered by me on the Guam side," he said, adding that he must keep his current position as president of the Guam National Olympic Committee in order to serve as secretary general.

Blas said the Oceania region headquarters normally is relocated to the home country of the secretary general, but it was decided to keep the headquarters in Fiji, which is more centrally located in the region than Guam. He will run things out of his Guam office in Tamuning, he said.

Blas said Guam’s Olympic program already is in good shape, due in large part to its ability since 1995 to solicit help from corporate sponsors.

"We’re doing well," he said, and his new position elevates Guam’s presence at the international level, with an automatic seat on the International Olympic Committee’s Solidarity Commission.

According to the commission’s Web site, the solidarity commission administers the share of Olympic television rights that is allocated to national Olympic committees.

Blas said some Oceania nations have complained they rarely see the secretary general or development officers.

"What I want to try do is have a greater presence of these guys in these countries," he said, to review programs and identify Olympic grants.

"Many of them still don’t understand what opportunities are available to them," he said, adding that he wants to help countries with the mandatory reports they must submit for Olympic funding -- one of the biggest problems at this time.

Blas said he started lobbying for the secretary general position during last year’s Beijing Olympics after then-Secretary General Robin Mitchell of Fiji decided to run for president of the Oceania region.

Mitchell was elected president, and Blas said he will meet him in about two weeks to transition to the new job.

Blas also served as vice president of the Oceania region, and his election as secretary general means he has held two of the organization’s top three positions.

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