By Sulayman Bah
The move to open the headquarters follows an announcement by the National Sports Council after months of intense negotiations.
The Gambia Olympic House was forced to cease operations and the staff denied access by security personnel acting on orders ‘from the top’ in April this year in the wake of a series of disputes between the GNOC executive and government.
The furore between the two began after the technical arm of government, the Sports Council, questioned the credibility of the NOC’s elections in which Sheriff Jammeh, the incumbent’s rival, for the position of president, boycotted the polls raising issues with the voters’ list.
The brouhaha reached a point when the International Olympic Committee warned of meddling into NOC matters and urging affiliate members to instead resolve their differences internally.
Matters took a new trajectory after the NOC bureau was stormed and shut down for close to four months with the dust only settling after government and few NOC officials sat on a round-table meeting to reach a peaceful agreement.
What was agreed there was not disclosed, but NSC yesterday declared the closed office opened.
A press statement from the NSC reads: “The National Sports Council wish to bring to the notice of the general public that following the closure of the Gambia National Olympic Committee’s office some four months ago, as a result of internal differences and wrangles within the GNOC, series of meetings were held with the concerned stakeholders with a view to reaching a peaceful end to their long standing disputes.
Considering the difficulties that the athletes and secretariat staff of the GNOC have been going through during this period, the NSC is pleased to announce that a breakthrough has been reached to reopen Olympic House to all essential staff and the general public.
In the meantime, the NSC will continue to explore all avenues to work with all concerned stakeholders in order to bring about a final and an amicable end to all internal differences at the GNOC.
As the leadership of the country continues to safeguard, protect and promote the general welfare of the youth, particularly the athletes in this case, the NSC therefore solicits the cooperation and support of all in its quest to regularize and develop Gambian sports.”
There was still a security presence when this news outlet visited the bureau yesterday afternoon.
Efforts to sound the GNOC president Momodou Dibba’s view proved unsuccessful at the time of going to press.