Sport federations' chief Marius Vizer attacks IOC

AP News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2015 7:05 AM

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — The head of the association representing international sports federations launched a scathing attack on the IOC on Monday, accusing the Olympic body of running a system that is "expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent."

With IOC President Thomas Bach looking on, SportAccord chief Marius Vizer said the International Olympic Committee could be "headed for destruction" if it does not grant the federations more power.

Vizer accused Bach of blocking federation's plans for multi-sports events, interfering in the autonomy of sports organizations and excluding key leaders from voting on Olympic host cities.

The strongly-worded speech marked a rare public show of discord between powerful leaders in the Olympic movement. It came after the IOC snubbed Vizer by deciding not to hold an executive board meeting during the SportAccord conference in Sochi.

Vizer said he had tried to develop a good relationship with Bach based on collaboration and respect.

"Unfortunately, it never became reality," he said.

Vizer, whose umbrella body represents Olympic and non-Olympic federations, called for serving sports officials to be guaranteed a majority of votes in the IOC and for more Olympic revenue to be distributed to national sports federations and athletes.

"History demonstrated that all the empires who reached the highest peaks of development never reformed on time and they are all headed for destruction," he told the SportAccord convention in Sochi. "The IOC system today is expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent."

Vizer also said federations had been sidelined in Bach's "Olympic Agenda 2020" reform program and that the IOC's planned Olympic digital channel — due to be launched later this year — lacked a solid business basis.

Bach responded that Vizer's views were not representative of SportAccord's member federations and that the IOC had an "open dialogue" with them.

"Following many discussions I have had with many of your colleagues ... my impression is a little bit that your opinion you have exclusively for you," Bach said in his speech to the convention. "Many people have made constructive proposals which are ending up in even closer cooperation between the IOC and the international federations."

Out of a maximum IOC membership of 115, up to 45 members can be athletes, federation heads or representatives of national Olympic committees. Vizer, who heads the International Judo Federation but is not an IOC member, argued that "the majority of votes should belong to people in functions or offices directly related to sport" and called for some countries' ministries of sport to be given a role at the IOC.

The Romania-born Vizer was due to be re-elected unopposed as head of SportAccord later Monday.

The IOC has had a difficult relationship with Vizer, who was elected in 2013 as head of SportAccord, taking over from former international cycling federation chief Hein Verbruggen.

Vizer has proposed holding a "United World Championships" for all the sports federations every four years, a potential direct challenge to the IOC and the Olympics.

"I made a number of proposals in favor and for the benefit of IFs (international federations) but we have never received a positive reaction," Vizer said in his speech.

Addressing Bach, he said, "Mr. President, please stop blocking the SportAccord strategy in its mission to identify and organize conventions and multi-sport games."

Bach and the IOC decided in February not to hold an executive board meeting during this year's SportAccord convention, a move that was seen as a snub to Vizer. The IOC has traditionally scheduled a board meeting every spring during SportAccord, which has brought added prestige and media coverage to the conference.

Vizer also criticized the IOC for barring the two candidates for the 2022 Winter Games — Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan — from making public presentations at the convention. Previously, bid cities always made presentations at SportAccord.

The convention is being held in last year's Winter Olympic host city of Sochi, which will also host next year's event, SportAccord said Sunday. Bach said Sochi was showing a strong legacy from the Olympics and called on sports federations to consider it as a host for future world championship events.