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Bach faces tall order as president of the IOC

  • Thomas Bach, of Germany, stands at the end of the ceremony at which he was named the new president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at the 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. AP


Published: Sep 21, 2013

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The new president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), German Thomas Bach, has a tall order in front of him. A veteran of the Olympic Movement, Bach, in the minds of voters, was best qualified to succeed Jacques Rogge.

The big test for him will be whether he is able to continue driving the IOC mandates without any major hitches, as did Rogge. Bach’s predecessor proved to be a president who was on balance generally, throughout his 12-year tenure. Rogge did hit a few bad spots. One in particular, was when he criticized Jamaican athletes for the manner in which they celebrated success at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He was promptly chastised by Lamine Diack, who heads the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and Rogge subsequently did the right thing. He just allowed the matter to be dropped.

He was a personable leader with great compassion, other than that incident, I thought. I vividly recalled Rogge seeking to give the disgraced sprinter from the United States, Marion Jones, some good advice. He warned her about the company she kept, while seemingly, publicly endorsing her as a good person.

Well, Jones turned on Rogge and the rest is history. Rogge tried to put her on the right path however. To me, that scenario spoke very much to the kind of refreshing leadership Rogge gave the world’s Olympic Movement. More so than any other IOC president, I felt he connected with athletes from the 200-plus nations with Olympic membership. He did not limit his interaction to high-powered meetings within the movement.

Under Rogge, the IOC appeared to work more closely with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and its affiliates around the world. There was great scrutiny of competitors throughout the world, and some really big names were suspended from competition. History will record that during Rogge’s presidency, there was a great assault on athletes caught using banned substances. More big name athletes were caught than ever before.

Also, billions of dollars continued to flow into the IOC’s many coffers and around the world, the respective National Olympic Committees were empowered accordingly. Such is the legacy of Jacques Rogge.

Bach has a background in commerce and industry so he should be able, at least, to ensure that the economic vibrancy of the IOC remains constant. How he deals with the actual politics of heading the largest and most powerful sporting body in the world remains to be seen.

During the election for president, Bach received 43 votes from IOC members, 20 more than his nearest rival, Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico. Nobody else got more than eight votes. Clearly, his initial status as leader is very strong. He will be given a fair chance to get his feet wet.

The honeymoon will be over in short order however, and he will have to face front-on the high expectancy that comes with the position of IOC president.

 

• To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

 


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