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SBD/September 10, 2013/OlympicsPrint All
German lawyer and former Olympic fencer Thomas Bach today won a six-candidate race to succeed Jacques Rogge as IOC President. Bach, who was seen as the frontrunner, won a majority in the second round of voting. The 59-year-old former adidas exec has been a member of the IOC since '91. He is the ninth IOC leader in 119 years and eighth from Europe. After being named, Bach thanked his colleagues and pledged to do his "best to balance the interests of all the stakeholders in the movement." He added, "Let us, this great universal orchestra, the IOC, play together in harmony for a bright future of the Olympic movement." Canada IOC member Dick Pound praised the choice, saying, "He's got high energy. He thinks organizationally. He's very good on the big picture, very good on the details, which you need to have because there's a tremendous amount of de facto power for a full-time president of a part-time organization. The continuity comes from the president and the administration."
TALLYING THE VOTES: This was only the second presidential election in 30 years. Bach topped a field that included Sergey Bubka, the Ukrainian pole vaulting Gold medalist; Richard Carrion, the Puerto Rican CEO of Banco Popular; Ng Ser Miang, the Singaporean businessman; Denis Oswald, a Swiss lawyer and Olympic rower; and C.K. Wu, the Taiwanese architect and head of the boxing federation. Bach's selection in the second round was in line with the pre-race lobbying efforts of one of his biggest supporters and allies, Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah. The sheik, who is the president of the Olympic Council of Asia, was encouraging IOC members last month at the IAAF World Championships in Moscow to show solidarity by giving Bach a majority in the first or second round. In Buenos Aires, that is what happened. The first round of voting saw Ng and Wu tie. A runoff was held and Wu was eliminated. Bach went on to secure a majority in the next round of voting.
NEXT STEPS: Bach takes over the IOC in far better shape than when Rogge became president 12 years ago. There is nearly $1B in reserves and the IOC has expanded its footprint into China, Russia and Brazil. But a host of challenges remain. The '14 Sochi Olympics are under attack from gay rights advocates critical of Russia's anti-gay propaganda law, and preparations for the '16 Rio Olympics are behind schedule. There is also concern about the future of the IOC's business model. The organization's prestigious TOP program is under pressure to change the pricing or structure and assets it offers worldwide sponsors. Carrion, who also serves as the IOC's Audit Commission Chair, told members they cannot expect the same type of 40% increases in TV rights in the future. Carrion said that revenue growth will be modest in the years ahead.
PLAYING POLITICS: In his campaign, Bach said he wants to explore launching an Olympic TV network. He also wants to change the way the IOC determines what sports participate in the Olympics. The organization currently has a cap on the number of athletes for each Summer Games and a cap on the number of sports at 26. He also talked about improving transparency within the IOC, strengthening anti-doping sanctions and giving the IOC athlete's commission more of a voice in the future of the Olympics. Bach said, "Given that we see more and more athletes' unions and lobbying groups pretending to speak on behalf of the athletes, we have to establish our athletes' commission as the legitimate representative body of the athletes because they are democratically elected."
ADDING U.S. BLOOD: USOC and EA Chair Larry Probst became the fourth U.S. member of the IOC today, following a 71-20 vote by IOC members. Probst in a statement said, "I'm honored by today's election and proud to serve as a member of the International Olympic Committee. It has been a great privilege to serve as chairman of the United States Olympic Committee and I look forward to continuing our collective efforts to advance the Olympic Movement and its important values of respect, friendship and excellence."