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SBD Global/September 12, 2013/OlympicsPrint All
Newly elected IOC President Thomas Bach "announced in his first press conference a change of course at the organization," according to the DPA. The 59-year-old German lawyer "wants to make the well-being of athletes the IOC's top priority again." In addition, he "wants to develop the IOC into a stronger social power." Bach: "We have to realize what the IOC can do, what it can't do and what's its purpose. The IOC can't be apolitical." He added, "We have to acknowledge that the Olympic Games have political implications. But to fulfill our role, we have to be politically neutral." Shortly after winning the IOC presidential election on Tuesday, Bach "received a call from Russian President Vladimir Putin." Bach said, "He congratulated me and promised me close collaboration to make sure the Sochi Games will be a success." The "problem-prone" Winter Games, which will take place in Sochi from Feb. 7-23, "will be Bach's first challenge." The preparations for the Sochi Games "are overshadowed by terrorist threats, human-rights violations and a huge outcry over Russia's controversial anti-gay laws." Therefore, Bach "will waste no time and dive into the new position as fast as possible." Bach: "The most important issue is Sochi. There are only five months left" (DPA, 9/11).
EARLY TEST: The AP reported Bach "will be tested quickly by two troublesome Olympics: the Winter Games less than five months away in the southern Russian resort of Sochi, and the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro" -- still three years away "but setting off alarms." Bach: "We have the assurance of the highest authorities in Russia that we trust." Other concerns of the Sochi Games are "cost overruns" with a budget topping $50B. Rio "looms large after Sochi." IOC inspectors visiting just more than a week ago said that "slow progress was being made in preparations for the 2016 Games and warned that things need to be speeded up." Bach said, "We are three years ... from Rio and we will make sure that we have very close coordination with the organizing committee, and also with the governmental authorities. There are, of course, some issues" (AP, 9/11). The AP also reported Bach said that "he wants to change the bidding process for future Olympics and make sustainable development a key priority" (AP, 9/11).
CONGRATS COMING IN: The London TELEGRAPH reported British Olympic Association Chair Sebastian Coe believes Bach is the "perfect choice." Coe: "He will be standing on the shoulders of past Olympic giants and following in the footsteps of another president with athletes at heart. The IOC and the wider movement can be confident that in moving forward they have a new IOC president who sees the Games through the eyes of competitors" (TELEGRAPH, 9/11). In Singapore, Marc Lim reported Kuwaiti IOC member Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah said that Bach "deserves all the credit for a well-run campaign" (STRAITS TIMES, 9/11).
WHAT NEXT? In Munich, Klaus Hoeltzenbein opined "not offering a target; that was the fencing tactic that Bach used to become IOC president." But "what's his program?" It "has not been apparent yet." The IOC "has a new president, but it doesn't get a new program or fresh ideas with it." So far, there "only has been this puzzling slogan, which Bach used for his campaign: 'Unity through diversity.'" He "never publicly said what he wants, what he plans." Bach "will have to open his visor, from now on he will be globally judged." His presidency "comes with challenges and dangers." He "does not only have to protect the IOC and its Olympic Games from doping and illegal betting, but also from national absorption and the first test is already awaiting him with the Sochi Winter Games in February" (SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG, 9/11).
Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who "played a controversial role" in the election of new IOC President Thomas Bach, has "insisted he is no 'kingmaker' but called for the rules over lobbying to be clarified," according to Owen Gibson of the London GUARDIAN. The Kuwaiti sheikh "is president of the umbrella group of 205 national Olympic committees" and is responsible for distributing nearly $400M of the IOC's money among them. On the eve of the vote, Bach's Swiss rival for the presidency, Denis Oswald, "publicly criticised his close links with the sheikh, prompting a reprimand from the IOC." After the vote, Oswald again said that "the IOC would have to look again" at the role of Al-Sabah during the campaign. Oswald: "That is something, in my opinion, we will have to discuss. We knew it was a very difficult race and we did our best" (GUARDIAN, 9/11).
The Spanish Superior Sports Council (CSD) has scheduled a meeting with Olympic federations for Friday, according to the EFE. CSD President Miguel Cardenal has "arranged to meet with leaders of Olympic federations this week" and will meet with representatives of non-Olympic federations "at the end of the month." Spain's Education, Culture & Sports Minister José Ignacio Wert said both before and after Tokyo was named as the host of the 2020 Olympics that the "funds for sports in '14 would not decrease." Next year, "sports federations will not have to spend money on drug tests, because those will be done by Spain's new 'law for the protection of athletes' health and the fight against doping.'" Cardenal said, "We have to work on new formulas of financing with the hope of beginning to recover public financing. We are working with the federations to finalize projects" (EFE, 9/10).
CATALONIA WOULD BACK BARCELONA BID: In Barcelona, Fidel Masreal reported Spanish state of Catalonia government spokesperson Francesc Homs confirmed that the Barcelona city council "will have the Catalonia government's support if it bids to host the 2022 Winter Olympics." Homs said, "What they decide will have our complete support. If the candidacy becomes official in the next few weeks, we will be able to talk about it" (EL PERIODICO, 9/10).
Japan PM Shinzo Abe plans to appoint Sports Minister Hakubun Shimomura "to the new post of minister in charge of preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics." The plan "is aimed at unifying administrative tasks for the Olympics and Paralympics" (KYODO, 9/11). ... Abe and Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose on Wednesday "agreed to encourage operators of stores, restaurants and other facilities to expand the use of foreign-language signs and other materials for the benefit of overseas visitors in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics" (KYODO, 9/11). ... The India Sport Ministry "has decided to form a steering committee to monitor and coordinate" the work related to major int'l sports events until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Steering Committee "will be responsible for deciding core probables, reviewing performance of the core probables every three months for deciding who needs to be retained or dropped or added" (PTI, 9/11).