IOC members gear up to elect new president
Six men will wake up on Tuesday with hopes of ending the day as the most powerful man in sport by being elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) President and succeeding Jacques Rogge.
Their fate lies in the hands of fellow IOC members when they vote later on Tuesday in Buenos Aires.
They may not be locked away like the cardinals when they go into a conclave to elect the Pope, and they don’t burn their voting papers after voting, but their vote is similar in that it is by secret ballot.
Their responsibility is enormous as they are voting for the president of the sporting equivalent of the United Nations.
The winner will be the flagbearer not only of the IOC values of Excellence, Respect and Friendship but also of continuing to lead the fight against doping and illegal betting to name but two daunting challenges.
In as much as one can assess what members’ voting intentions are, Germany’s Thomas Bach is still regarded as likely to justify his role throughout of being the favourite and be rewarded with a position he has wanted for a long time.
One of his supporters told AFP a first round win was assured: “We have more than wrestling had in their vote (they got 49 on Sunday in the first round to regain their place among the Olympic roster).”
However, in the relative privacy of pushing the button on their voting boxes some members freed from constant pressure could feel liberated and change their minds and there are those who resent the way some Bach supporters are calling the vote a done deal and a coronation.
Of the 59-year-old lawyer’s rivals only two have been talked about as potentially being capable of dashing his dreams of achieving his goal: Ng Ser Miang of Singapore and Puerto Rico’s Richard Carrion.
The 64-year-old China-born Ng, Singapore’s ambassador to Norway, is extremely popular among the membership.
However, the victory of Tokyo in the race to host the 2020 Olympics on Saturday damaged his chances as members could be loathe to give Asia two golden prizes in such a short space of time.
Carrion, responsible for brokering the record $4.38 billion (3.3 billion euros) broadcasting deal with NBC to have exclusive US coverage of the Olympics through to 2020, has presidential bearing and espoused powerful arguments in his campaign, but his lack of a sporting background is likely to hurt his chances.
Thus the likelihood is that at 1400GMT, when voting begins, the odds are that at the end of it Europe will retain its stranglehold over the presidency — the controversial American Avery Brundage is the only non European to have held the office.
Should Bach be elected — becoming the first Olympic champion to be IOC President — there could well be a frosty exchange between him and one of his rivals, Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald.
The 66-year-old Oswald, realising he had no chance of winning, decided to vent his feelings about the German.
“I don’t believe he and I share the same values,” said the 66-year-old, president of the Rowing Federation.
“I imagine a president who is independent, who is not dependent solely on alliances with other people and who does not use his position for anything else but the defence of sport.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]