SportAccord chief Vizer seeks talks with IOC to repair ties
LONDON (AP) — A month after launching a scathing attack on the IOC, the head of SportAccord said Tuesday he wants to meet with Thomas Bach to repair the damage that has led multiple sports to cut ties with the umbrella body for international federations.
Responding to the backlash that followed his blistering criticism of Olympic leaders, SportAccord chief Marius Vizer said he has proposed a meeting with the IOC president “in order to define the way forward and relieve pressure” from the federations.
The meeting, Vizer said, “needs to be held for the benefit and the unity of the sports movement.”
Vizer said he is also seeking a meeting with the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 28 sports in the games.
“I look forward to open and honest discussions which are for the benefit of sport,” Vizer said in a statement from SportAccord’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. “I hope to have positive discussions which will lead to tangible solutions.”
Vizer has been increasingly isolated since delivering a strongly-worded speech blasting Bach and the International Olympic Committee at the opening of the SportAccord convention in Sochi, Russia.
Vizer, who also heads the international judo federation, called the IOC system “expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent.” He said Bach’s reform program was of little use to the federations and accused him of blocking SportAccord’s plans for multi-sports competitions.
ASOIF and 10 individual federations have suspended ties with SportAccord since Vizer’s speech. SportAccord represents Olympic and non-Olympic sports bodies.
Vizer has defended his point of view several times since the speech. In Tuesday’s statement, he did not back down but expressed a less strident tone and made clear he was interested in mending fences.
“Unity is paramount and I do not have a personal agenda,” Vizer said. “My statement in Sochi on 20th of April was meant to launch proper reforms that would result in a better future for sport.
“My intention has been and will always be to safeguard and further the interests of the international federations. My aim is to unite them and support them as they are the elected representatives of the national federations and moreover, of the athletes.”
Vizer claimed there “has been an increased interest in applications for SportAccord membership from various international sport bodies” since his speech.
His statement came shortly after the international weightlifting federation became the latest to join the exodus from SportAccord.
Weightlifting followed triathlon, wrestling, taekwondo, boxing, athletics, archery, canoeing, shooting and bobsled in suspending or cutting relations with SportAccord. Modern pentathlon is expected to follow suit next.
Boxing and taekwondo have also pulled out of the 2017 World Combat Games, a multi-sport event run by SportAccord.
Vizer’s outburst in Sochi against the IOC has left the future of his organization in question. It’s uncertain whether the SportAccord convention will be held again in Russia for the next four years as originally planned.
The IOC, meanwhile, has made it clear it can live without SportAccord. The IOC decided not to hold an executive board meeting in Sochi during the SportAccord conference, breaking with tradition going back to the first convention in 1993.
The IOC has had a tense relationship with Vizer ever since he was elected in 2013 to succeed former cycling federation president Hein Verbruggen as head of SportAccord.
Vizer ruffled Olympic leaders by proposing to organize a “United World Championships” for all federations every four years, a potential direct challenge to the IOC and the Olympics. The plan has never materialized.
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