Thomas Bach spends 1st day at IOC headquarters
LONDON (AP) — Thomas Bach spent his first day at IOC headquarters as the new president on Tuesday, reviewing preparations for the Sochi Olympics with predecessor Jacques Rogge and meeting with staff.
Bach moved into his new offices at the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, exactly a week after he was elected president in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“You can feel an excellent team spirit here,” the German told The Associated Press by phone. “I feel received with open arms.”
Bach spent most of the day with Rogge, the Belgian who ran the IOC for 12 years. Rogge handed over key files to Bach and briefed him on the inner workings of the IOC administration.
“There may be a different style because we are different persons but not a different direction,” Bach said. “He confirmed he will be ready to give advice. We will see each other again in the near future.”
Bach said the two men discussed the situation in Sochi, the Black Sea resort in southern Russian that will host the Winter Games in less than five months. He gave no details.
Preparations for the Feb. 7-23 Olympics have been overshadowed by Western criticism of a new anti-gay law in Russia that bans promotion of “nontraditional” lifestyles to minors. The IOC has said it received assurances from the Russian government that the Sochi Games will not be affected by the law.
Bach also met Tuesday with IOC director general Christophe De Kepper, department chiefs and staff. Bach confirmed he would keep working with De Kepper and his team “to show there is continuity” after Rogge’s departure.
“We identified some issues where we want to introduce some changes, adapt to the present circumstances in the world and maybe even some of the future,” he said.
Bach’s first official trip as president will be to Ancient Olympia, Greece, on Sept. 29 for the ceremonial lighting of the flame to mark the start of the torch relay for the Sochi Games.
A possible trip to Sochi has not yet been scheduled, he said.
As was the case with Rogge, Bach will work full time at the IOC’s Swiss headquarters and reside in an apartment at the Lausanne Palace Hotel. Bach resigned Monday as head of German’s national Olympic committee to assume his new IOC role.
The first IOC executive board meeting under Bach’s leadership is Dec. 10-11.