Photo: An extremely proud Ian Wilkinson QC, President of the Jamaica Chess Federation displays the certificate of acceptance that his federation received from the Jamaica Olympic Association, accepting Chess as part of the organization last Friday. Wilkinson will demit office as President when his term comes to an end next year.
A proud and beaming Ian Wilkinson QC, President of the Jamaica Chess Federation could neither hide nor contain his delight and excitement after his sport was finally inducted into the Jamaica Olympic Association after a decade of trying.
The esteemed lawyer is unreserved in his belief of the benefit that the sport can have on the country and is most pleased that Chess is now officially a part of the body that has overarching responsibility for sports in the country.
“This is tremendous, not just for the Jamaica Chess Federation, the Chess fraternity, the Executive Council and the wider membership, but this is great for Jamaica’s sporting history. Chess is a global event and in my opinion only two other movements are bigger, world football and the Olympic movement,” he said at the induction ceremony.
“Chess has nearly 200 member countries and hundreds of millions of players, the last count was more than 600 million. The internet has led to a chess boom and we in Jamaica see ourselves as the leading Chess country in the English speaking Caribbean,” he disclosed.
Wilkinson also highlighted just how long the fight has been on for recognition of Chess as an Olympic sport in Jamaica.
“This induction is significant because the Chess Federation existed since February 1969, we have been trying to become members for roughly 50 years; so this moment is truly significant and on behalf of my executive council and the wider membership I would like to thank President Chris Samuda and his executive members and the Directors of the Jamaica Olympic Association for having the vision, which is going to redound to the benefit of all sports because we believe that all sportsmen should play Chess,” he said.
There are benefits and responsibilities that come with the ascension to Olympic sport level which the association is prepared to accept and handle the Chess advocate suggested.
“There are many concomitant benefits including that we now have voting rights, we can help to select the leadership of the of the Jamaica Olympic Association, we never had that before, we are entitled to other privileges such as sponsorship support and not just financial but also in terms of kind, gears, promotional activity, access to the facilities. We of course have the corresponding responsibilities of adhering to the principles, the precepts, the dictates of the Jamaica Olympic Association so we are much improved as a result of being members of the JOA.”
Wilkinson also believes that Chess becoming an Olympic sport in Jamaica will have a far reaching and positive effect and impact on the wider Caribbean region.
“We will now be a very good example to our fellow countries in the region because Jamaica is like the “big brother” in many instances and respects. Many see us as their United States, the Soviet Union, the England of the Caribbean. This is a signal moment and will serve as an example to motivate and inspire those persons in those Chess Associations and Federations who are waging a similar battle as the one we have fought over the last fifty years. So this is an encouraging moment for our brothers and sisters in those other countries and we will use this as a fillip and as inspiration to help them where possible.”
The Kingston College Old Boy also gave a bombshell revelation which will cause many to stand up and take notice.
“Jamaican Chess has done so well worldwide in the past 20 years, approximately, that I have been invited to run for President of the World Chess Federation. This accomplishment, by being inducted into the JOA, will further serve as a big boost for such a campaign if I decide to pursue it. So this is an additional reason I am particularly happy because I do not intend to return as President of the Jamaica Chess Federation when my term is up next year. So this is a very important parting gift for me to have achieved for my members,” he declared.
While members of the local federation will now be busy looking for a replacement for their out-going president they will surely be hoping that he takes on the challenge and duly becomes the next President of the World Chess Federation.