“The Government supports the Barranquilla proposal for now”: Ernesto Lucena

It has been one of the protagonists in the era of the pandemic. Ernesto Lucena, Minister of Sports, has figured quite a bit in the midst of the bickering around the biosafety protocol and the entire process of restarting Colombian professional football.

In dialogue with EL HERALDO, the minister referred to the burning issues of national football and the recent candidacy of Bogotá for the 2027 Pan American Games, which have been in the sights of the Atlantic capital for much earlier.

Lucena also took stock of his first two years in command of Colombian sports.

What stands out the most from these two years of management?

The balance is positive. It has been a period in which we have managed to consolidate a process of many years, first with the creation of the Ministry and then with the largest budget in history, with an increase of 38%. Third, with the empowerment of all athletes about their Ministry. Today Colombian idols know in detail how our system works. Everything has been satisfactory. Obviously the pandemic has put a brake on many things, but the balance is completely positive. It is one of the sectors with the most visibility in these two years of Government.

What do you regret?

Obviously the pandemic. It made us lose the momentum that we brought for the Olympic Games and so many competitions that there were this year like the America’s Cup. I also regret that issues such as the University Sports League have not materialized. We hope to be able to do so in this third year. Also the issue of the anti-doping laboratory, which we already had ready. Only one visit from the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) was missing. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, those two projects, which have been important to us, have been stopped, but we are going to move them forward. I also regret not being able to continue developing sports infrastructure in the first part of the year, but we hope to resume those actions.

When you get to know the world of sports from an administrative point of view, what has surprised you?

The national sports system, from the federative point of view, has done a very good process in recent years. Most federations are consolidated and know how their system works. We have had a very good and direct relationship with them, with the Colombian Olympic Committee (COC), with the Paralympic Committee. One is pleasantly surprised by the devotion and vocation with which many work. Many times without resources, but in favor of their athletes. The other thing that has surprised me is getting to know the athletes closely, knowing their concerns and feelings.

What has the transformation of Coldeportes to the Ministry of Sports served for? Is the best of that change yet to come?

Sure we are, we’re just getting started. The transformation was necessary for a simple reason: the positive image of Colombia, and for no one is a secret, is given by its athletes. The country could not be inferior to what they have given. Having a vote in the Council of Ministers, being part of public policies with sport as an educational, health and safety axis, will be fundamental. Coldeportes completed its cycle. Sport needed this political and economic status.

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