SportAccord President Marius Vizer opened the General Assembly of his organization of International Sport Federations Monday in Sochi by making bold and aggressive remarks towards International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. Vizer criticized Bach for excluding sports federations from key decisions including the Olympic host city selection process, for an ineffective Agenda 2020 and for ignoring his proposals for collaboration with the IOC (click here for transcript of Vizer’s remarks.)
The two sport leaders have been at odds since two years ago Vizer proposed a new SportAccord World Games concept that would combine several world championships in one event – one that Bach felt could undermine the Olympic Games themselves. But until Vizer’s tirade in Sochi the discussions had remained private.
“It is required that the International Federations are respected and appreciated because they are the foundation and pillars of the sport,” Vizer said.
“Their unity and solidarity give consistency to the world sport movement.”
Bach took passive shots at Vizer’s organization as part of the Agenda 2020 bidding reforms when to keep costs low, bid city presentations were removed from the calendar. The most controversial omission was that of the highly anticipated presentation that occurs at the SportAccord convention – being held in Sochi this week following the General Assembly – where many sports stakeholders are present and would have their only opportunity to experience the bids first-hand. Presentations from Almaty and Beijing that had been scheduled, were cancelled late last year.
But Vizer shot back, “the main joint platform of the IFs is SportAccord. It is a unique platform that unites all International Federations. The Olympic bid cities are blocked from making presentations or exhibiting their candidatures at SportAccord Convention.”
“The voting for potential host cities of the Olympic Games is compromised.”
Then on key policies that were not affected by Agenda 2020 Vizer said “key stakeholders are excluded from making informed decisions when selecting Olympic host cities.”
“IOC members cannot visit bid cities and during the IOC Session, when the vote takes place, IF presidents – who are organizers of the Olympic Games, are obliged to leave the room.”
In another move that distances the two governing bodies, Bach’s Executive Board cancelled its annual meeting typically held at the SportAccord Convention, instead claiming that a similar meeting to be held during a bid city technical session in Lausanne in June would be sufficient.
Vizer also took a general shot at Bach’s key mandate, designed to reform international sport.
“The Agenda 2020 hardly brings any real benefit to sport, to IFs, or athletes,” he said.
Vizer explained that the Olympic Charter only requires 45 of the possible 115 IOC members be in positions “directly related to sport.”
“This minority is the real royalty of the sport,” he said.
“In spite of this, during any vote, they can never determine change. In order to protect the real interests of sport, the majority of votes should belong to people in functions or offices related directly to sport.”
Vizer also criticized the IOC for allowing the spending of “hundreds of millions of dollars” on opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympic Games while “millions of athletes live in hunger and they don’t stand a chance in sport due to the lack of proper conditions.”
“I consider that all the reforms must be implemented urgently in the IOC and I mean real reforms, that must serve and reflect the real interests of sport.”
He said “the IOC system is expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent. The Olympic Games belong to all of us and we need real reforms.”
Then ominously, Vizer predicted the IOC road to ruin.
“History demonstrated that all the empires who reached the highest peaks of development never reformed on time and they all headed for destruction,” he said.
Bach later rebuffed the comments by saying that Vizer’s opinions did not represent those of the individual International Federations, but were his “exclusively.”
The SportAccord International Convention continues throughout the week.