David Shoemaker’s inside knowledge of Beijing should be an asset for Canadian athletes competing there in 2022.
Shoemaker, named chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee on Tuesday, spent almost a decade based in Beijing as CEO of NBA China and also in a prior post with the Women’s Tennis Association.
Beijing is the host city of the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Shoemaker is fluent in Mandarin.
The 47-year-old from Ottawa acknowledged his sports experience in Asia may have been a factor in earning the COC position
Among the COC’s mandates are preparing athletes for games environments and looking after their needs on the ground during games.
“In my time in China, I spent a lot of time working with the Chinese government and some provincial governments and sports bureaus,” Shoemaker told The Canadian Press.
“The breadth of my international experience is something we talked about at length with the board of directors at the COC. I’d like to think that aspect of my resume served me well.”
Shoemaker replaced interim CEO Robin Brudner, who stepped in for Chris Overholt when he departed for the Overwatch esports league in September. Shoemaker starts his new job Jan. 7.
Shoemaker was NBA China’s CEO for seven years until he and his family moved to Toronto earlier this year.
He played a role in negotiating television and digital media contracts within China for the NBA. Shoemaker formed a partnership with China’s ministry of education to promote basketball in schools.
The NBA played a dozen games in China during his tenure.
“The NBA focuses on delivering excellence. It’s a high-performance organization,” Shoemaker said. “I see a lot of parallels there between the popularity and the standards of excellence and the high-performance organization expectation with the Canadian Olympic Committee.
“It is a dream job and a homecoming too, to be able to come back to Canada after spending so much time abroad in sport and be able to contribute to Team Canada.”
Prior to joining the NBA, Shoemaker served as WTA president from 2009 to 2011. He was promoted to that position from Beijing where he’d spent almost two years heading up the WTA’s Asia-Pacific office.
Shoemaker’s mother Brenda Nunns Shoemaker won a Canadian women’s doubles title with Faye Urban in 1965 and represented her country in the 1966 Federation Cup.
“We were a very sporty family,” Shoemaker said.
“I told my brother I was going to take this position … he reminded me during the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, we’d jump into a 10-metre long swimming pool and pretend we were racing each other in the individual medley.
“I was Victor Davis and he was Alex Baumann or something like that.”
Shoemaker met his wife Jennifer, a Toronto native, in Beijing where she was a television commentator for Chinese Central Television.
A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Shoemaker spent seven years practising law in New York before joining the WTA as general counsel.
Preparing Canada for the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, and 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be Shoemaker’s immediate priorities.
But he also expects to tackle the issue of encouraging Canadian cities to host Olympic Games after Calgary’s rejection of a bid for the 2026 Winter Games in a November plebiscite.
“While we respect the result of the plebiscite, I’m personally and professionally disappointed with the outcome in Calgary,” Shoemaker said. “Having Olympic Games in your own country means so much on so many different levels, not the least of which is national unity.
“I know one thing we will discuss is when and where will we have Olympic Games in Canada?”
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press