At a press conference held at Scotland’s Virtus Chambers, Portof- Spain, yesterday, Williams accompanied her legal team and finally broke her silence on her controversial replacement on the eve of the final Olympic qualifier event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Williams was replaced by compatriot Marisa Dick who booked a spot in the Olympics.
Both experienced lawyers said there is still a chance for Williams to fly the red, white and black at the 2016 Summer Games, but only with the support of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committe (TTO C).
“There does exist a chance of Thema going to the Olympics,” Crowne explained. “The Tripartite Commission, they deal with exceptions to the rules. But the deadline for that application was January 15 (2016). But they do allow late applications in exceptional circumstances - this is nothing short of an exceptional situation. The only way that this application gets filed is with the TTO C vying.” Crowne was confident that the TTO C would buy in to their request but revealed that even if the Commission does not see this as an exceptional situation the Olympic Charter gives an exclusive right of appeal to CAS. He added that CAS has exclusive jurisdiction of any dispute arising from or in connection with the Olympics. Thema’s case, according to Crowne, clearly satisfies both. “We can take this dispute directly to CAS and we can ask them to issue a ruling on whether this qualifies as an exceptional situation. The IOC has in every instance accepted that CAS has jurisdiction over them even to decide these things, so that would be our route. CAS would actually fly in arbitrators to Trinidad and fight it out on home turf.
“The direct right of appeal to CAS combined with the Tripartite Commission accepting that this has been an exceptional situation, is the sliver of hope. There is still no body, not even CAS, that can force the Tripartite Commission to name someone. But when the file gets there, it will speak for itself. That is the most direct route to achieve Thema going to the Olympics.” Scotland added, though, that this does not preclude Williams for suing under her rights of breach of contract locally. Williams’ legal team also indicated that Dick’s legal representatives did in fact meet their requested April 27 (yesterday) deadline, of a response to their (Scotland/Crowne) pre-action protocol letter issued on Sunday.
“We received the letter from the Senior Counsel (Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj) so we are operating on that level. They’ve asked for time, we will do so, but time is against us now. We have until May 9 for the TTO C to name an athlete or refuse the position. We are heartened that the Federation in this instance responded to a deadline, I can tell you that we were serious that once the time has passed and we did not get a response we were going to take our actions. The main goal here is to get Thema back where we say she was wrongfully pulled, to put her back in the position that she ought to have been in,” Scotland added.
In response to these recent events, Williams finally voiced her concerns on this situation. The 20-year old gymnast revealed the many sacrifices she has endured to date, in an effort to achieve her allotted spot at the Olympic Games.
“I gave up my education (full scholarship to Michigan State University), family time, and friends because for the first six months I had no friends,” she explained. “I gave up social life. Overall though, had I not got on to this Olympic journey, I would have been in school studying engineering, fashion and arts,” she explained.