Judo chief Marius Vizer elected as new SportAccord president
Sports Features Communications
(SFC) International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer has been elected as the new head of SportAccord, the umbrella body for more than 100 international sports organisations.
Vizer overcame rival Bernard Lapasset, the chairman of the International Rugby Board, by 52 votes to 37 at the SportAccord general assembly on Friday morning at SportAccord Convention in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The Romanian-born Hungarian won the vote after pledging to transform SportAccord into a more powerful organisation.
And Vizer, who will succeed long-serving Hein Verbruggen in the role, has promised to shake up the landscape by introducing the new ‘United World Championships’, a new quadrennial multi-sport event.
After winning the election on Friday morning, the new SportAccord president told a press conference that the inaugural event has been earmarked for 2017.
“The competitions will be divided in different cities and different regions [within a country] according to the infrastructure and different facilities necessary to every sport,” Vizer said. “Of course it will be planned in a period that is convenient for all international federations.
“I have the intention to establish offices worldwide and one of the countries which is part of this programme can also be the first organiser.”
Some observers have suggested that the event could pose a threat to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games, particularly in major sports such as athletics and swimming, which are both members of SportAccord but are also leading Olympic sports.
However, Vizer played down speculation of a potential clash with the IOC.
''The Olympics are something very different and special,” he said. “They are the highest value which we have today in sport.
“They have to be happy with my plan to bring additional resources to sport and finance the base of sport.
“I don't think they have to be worried because it's a different event with a different background, a different strategy.
“Of course we will do everything in partnership and in agreement with all international sports organisations.”
Vizer described the proposed championships as a “commercial” venture and said that he has already been in touch with potential sponsors and broadcasters about the project.
He said that he had not discussed the plans with IOC president Jacques Rogge, who is due to step down from the role in September.
Vizer, 56, has been the head of judo’s global governing body since 2007.
The defeated Lapasset said: “We fought a hard, but very dignified campaign and I hope that, in a time of great challenge for sport, he (Vizer) will be successful in leading SportAccord forward, in unity and collaboration, for the benefit of all sports.
“Even in defeat, I stand by my vision. I firmly believe that SportAccord should move forward in sustainable evolution by leading the sports agenda, strengthening key stakeholder relationships and giving all federations the opportunity to collaborate on the key topics and challenges faced by sport today.
“I am passionate about sport and the power of sport to unite, engage and inspire and I remain committed to ensuring that SportAccord listens and gives equal voice to all its members and advances sport both on and off the field of play.”
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