Mike Fennel's Bio
Born January 11, 1935;
Managing Director Berger Paints, President Air Jamaica. Awarded Order of Merit for his contribution towards the commercial development of Jamaica. In 1984 awarded Commander of the Order of Distinction, and in 1998 awarded the Caribbean Community 25th Anniversary Award. Currently President of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
In an exclusive interview Mike Fennel declared that the role of the Commonwealth Games Federation is very clear: “To be responsible for those activities organized by the Olympic Committees in the Commonwealth relating to the Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games is our priority and we look to seeing members develop; when this is achieved we will see a wider spread of medals being won by different members. Do the Commonwealth Games reflect the culture of the members? This can be clearly reflected in our meetings and discussions with different people. When you speak to someone about the Commonwealth, the first reference is made to the Games. When athletes from 71 territories within the Commonwealth compete against each other, one realizes the similarities, the diversity and friendships that are developed through these games as better understanding is created. Such understanding is the basic element for cultural diversity between athletes and its people.” Mike Fennel has had a distinguished career which has taken him to the United States, to the United Kingdom and Oceania; these experiences contributing to his current position leading the Commonwealth Games Federation. Fennel goes on to say that there are two sides to the world of business, that is, you have to learn to negotiate and how to deal with people. “My business career has helped me in my role in the Commonwealth to have a better understanding of the different cultures and religions, and to be able to assess the difficult environments that the diverse commonwealth countries experience. In today’s world you cannot lead unless you work on professional and commercial lines. So far, working on these principles has allowed me to achieve what I have set out to accomplish”.
Does the fact that these games are organized every four years between the Summer Olympiad mean that they are seen as preparation for the Olympics?
“Yes and no. A sports calendar is very full and it is very difficult to find an appropriate period. Most agree that these Games should be held before the Olympic Games, although there are some who argue they should be after. I believe that how the Games are allocated works i.e. half way between one Olympic and another. We have athletes and countries participating from all the continents. There are also other Games to consider which include the Pan American, Asian Games, and the Mediterranean Games. Our objective is to find a period where the level of sport in the Commonwealth countries can develop. We want to help and be part of this process”.
There are at least 71 countries participating in 16 disciplines at each Commonwealth Games. Is this the maximum that these Games can reach?
“This is difficult to say. Like the Olympics, we have to ensure that the Games do not grow out of control. Obviously each sporting discipline would like to see the full range of sports programme possible; however, I believe 16 or 17 disciplines are more than enough. As President, I am involved in reviewing the Sports Programme following each Games. We discuss and decide which sport deserves to be represented in the Commonwealth Games programme, at the same time offering equal opportunities to all sports. For example, in 2010 we are considering cricket, as this is a popular sport in the Commonwealth. As the games will be hosted in Delhi, India this is another valid reason to include cricket on the programme as this is the most popular sport in this country”.
Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006 and Delhi 2010 – does this mean that you have to be a large City/Country to host these Games?
“The need is for an infrastructure and proper facilities that are capable of handling 4,500/5,000 athletes and 1,500 officials: a total of 6,500 people. This is a large number of people to cater for; not all cities can do it. However, certain towns can organize specific discipline- related championships or regional competitions”.
Mike Fennel went on to conclude in this interview an explanation of the motto of the 18th Edition of the Commonwealth Games Federation “United by the Moment”. Emphasizing on the ‘United’, he went on to say that we live in a difficult world. The world is divided. Divided by race, by wealth and different cultures and religion. “We have to understand that the greatest aspect of sport is how it unites people. In Melbourne we want to see this. We will have 10 days of competition, 71 countries from different cultural backgrounds. Together we will be united as one population. This is our goal and I am sure we can achieve this. When this is achieved the whole world will have won!".
AIPS General Secretary