POSTED: February 22nd 2012
SpeakingUp

Pescante resigns as IOC VP and Italian sport takes one more big step backwards

Mario Pescante / SFC
Mario Pescante / SFC

LAURA WALDEN / Sports Features Communications

TAMPA: Notably one of the most powerful and influential men in the Olympic Movement IOC vice-president Mario Pescante’s sudden resignation from the IOC yesterday made headlines around the world.

This happened following the Italian government's move not to back the Rome 2020 bid last week and on the day the bid formally closed. However, he will remain IOC member until the end of his term.

For 39 years he has served on the frontline in Italian sports bringing much credibility to the national team and one wonders if this technical government can even fathom the magnitude of his contribution and passion over the decades.

And not just Pescante, Italy has three other IOC Members, head of the International Skating Union Ottavio Cinquanta, the former Mayor of Rome, Franco Carraro who chairs the IOC program commission, Francesco Ricci-Bitti who is in charge of the International Tennis Federation and former athlete, Manuela Di Centa, who is still honorary IOC member. All of whom were completely behind the Rome 2020 Olympic bid.

The negative decision against Rome 2020 by the Italian government at the eleventh hour the day before the submission of the applicant files was truly a slap in the face for someone who had made such a substantial contribution to Italian sport. The government did itself no favors for fence sitting so long to take a decision.

Pescante spoke to the Italian news agency AGI.it and said, "My decision to submit my irrevocable resignation as IOC Vice President is not a controversial act against Government.

"Monti's decision was accepted with due respect but, with respect to the timing, I must say that my position in the IOC's executive is no longer compatible with my role.

"It was a negative decision that could have been given sooner considering the IOC's timeline. We lack any evidence, but the Olympic movement for Rome had raised a lot of expectations, we were thinking of a return to the human dimension and this 'last minute' decision is not appropriate at international level. It isn't an Expo, it isn't a concert and the nobility of a movement that is 2700 years old should have been respected. For the future? An Olympic future for Rome could be in 2060, seeing that starting from 2024 the centennial celebrations are due to begin.”

Pescante has held a leading role in Italian sports dating back to 1973 when he was elected Secretary General of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) a post he held until 1993 when he was elected president. He served as president for five years until 1998.

Internationally he became European Olympic Committee’s (EOC) secretary general from 1989-2001 and then president 2001-2006 after Dr. Jacques Rogge left the post as he was elected IOC president in 2001.

He also got involved with Italian politics as a deputy in the Italian Parliament and served as Under-Secretary of State in charge of Sport at the Italian Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities 2001-2006. Then in 2006 he became a Deputy in the Italian Parliament, a position he holds today and currently also serves as President of the European Union Commission of the Italian Parliament since 2008.

Pescante first represented Italian sport at Mexico in 1968 as Chef de Mission of the Italian team and over the years has attended 11 editions of the summer Games and 10 editions of the winter Games.

As one of the leaders of the earlier Rome 2004 bid, the city lost to Athens by 25 votes in the final round, he then was the driving force behind the Turin bid to bring the winter Games back to Italy.  Turin won against Sion by a landslide 17 votes winning 53 to 36 votes.

I personally had the good fortune to work for Mario Pescante for 11 years at the European Olympic Committees (EOC) and was honored to experience firsthand his dedication to both Italian and world sport. And I first met him through his beautiful wife Suzanna, during the FIFA World Cup taking place in 1990 in Italy.

It saddens me to see, after all these years that the Italian government treated its own elite world level team of sports officials with so little concern and respect and leave them cliff hanging over the bid until the final hour.

Dear Italy, will probably be a while until someone like Mario Pescante gets up to bat for the sports movement in such a big way and you can kiss that Olympic Dream goodbye for a very long time to come.


Keywords · Mario Pescante · IOC · EOC · Rome 2020 · Rome 2004 · Turin 2006


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