Sports Federations quit IOC after Bach attack
Athletics’ world body on Monday led a withdrawal from a major international sports association after its leader launched a scathing public attack on IOC chief Thomas Bach. Controversy erupted at the SportAccord convention in this Russian resort after its chief Marius Vizer accused Bach of blocking his plans to set up multi-sports events.
The presidents of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) gave immediate notice at the Sport Accord convention that they are leaving the group in protest, officials said.
IAAF president Lamine Diack, FIFA’s Sepp Blatter and FINA swimming federation boss Julio Maglioine were among 15 federation chiefs to sign a letter condemning Vizer’s remarks to the convention where Bach was a special guest.
“We are not going to waste our time coming here, what does it bring us,” said IAAF president Diack. Vizer, head of the International Judo Federation, slammed Bach’s much-vaunted reforms of the IOC and the creation of a new Olympic television channel. “Mr President, stop blocking the Sport Accord strategy in its mission to identify and organise conventions and multi-sport games. Do not try to create a theory around which sports are and are not eligible for multi-sport games.” Vizer also said individual federations should have more power on the IOC. “The IOC system is expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent,” said Vizer. Vizer has since 2013 led SportAccord, a body that until Monday grouped 107 international federations inside and outside the Olympics and organisers of sports events.
It has had an increasingly tense relationship with the IOC since candidates were stopped from making bid presentations at Sport Accord’s annual convention, which is billed as the world’s biggest sports business event.
Vizer’s proposal to hold a United World Games with several sports has also infuriated the IOC, though it has never got off the drawing board. “My only intention is to protect the interests of the international federations and to have a proper working relationship while providing them with projects and platforms in order to increase their visibility, exposure, participation and finance,” Vizer said. “If you want to be respected you have to be fair,” he told Bach.
Bach, who has made IOC reforms and the new television a pillar of his presidency, was visibly taken aback by the attack. The German IOC president ironically thanked Vizer for his “friendly welcome”. “My impression is a little bit that your opinions you have exclusively for you,” Bach added. He said other sports had made “constructive proposals which are ending up in even closer cooperation between the IOC and international federations”.
Bach flatly rejected discussing any new model for the distribution of the IOC’s multi-billion dollar revenues. “I have to very clearly say ‘no’.” The athletics and shooting federation presidents announced their intention to withdraw shortly after and the letter to Vizer was negotiated in the hours after.