POSTED: June 3rd 2013

IOC chief candidate Oswald would protect Olympics uniqueness and open door to new sports

Denis Oswald was in charge of the London 2012 IOC Coordination Commisssion / Scripps London
Denis Oswald was in charge of the London 2012 IOC Coordination Commisssion / Scripps London

Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Denis Oswald insisted he would fight any challenge to the “uniqueness” of the Olympics as he outlined his manifesto for his bid to succeed Jacques Rogge as president of the International Olympic Committee.

Oswald, a Swiss lawyer who has been president of the International Rowing Federation FISA for 24 years, is one of six candidates to have thrown his hat into the ring to replace Rogge, who is standing down in September.

Last Friday, Marius Vizer was appointed as the new president of SportAccord, the umbrella body for 90 international federations, on a promise to create a new quadrennial multi-sport event called the United World Championships.

However, Oswald said that he would fight the launch of any event that could “diminish” the strength of the Games, whilst adding that he would seek a “creative way” to open the door for more sports to join the Olympics.

“The Olympic movement is not just about the Olympic Games, but the Games are still essential to our actions,” Oswald said in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“The Games are unique and must remain unique. It’s our main asset. There is a magic around the Olympic Games and we must protect the Games and the fact that they are special.

“We should not allow any parallel competition that would threaten the Olympic Games or lessen its importance.

“I don’t support at all the idea of the United World Championships. I don’t think these proposals are realistic and can be implemented anyway, but this is a kind of threat. It might lessen the significance of the Olympic Games.

“The SportAccord election last week does not necessarily reflect the wish of the members to have this United World Championships. It [the event] is just not possible. There are 90 sports in SportAccord and I don’t think any city in the world could accommodate such a Games.”

The debate over the number of sports on the Olympic programme was brought into focus last week when wrestling made the shortlist, alongside squash and baseball/softball, to secure a spot at the 2020 Games just months after the IOC voted to take it off the programme.

Oswald, who admitted he was “very surprised” with the initial decision to eliminate wrestling and added that he was “pretty convinced” the sport would return to the programme, said that the process had denied another sport an opportunity to join the Olympics – an issue that he would tackle as IOC president.

“At the moment 28 sports is probably the maximum number if you look at the global picture,” Oswald added.

“However, if you streamline some sports and keep only the events that are truly universal, and therefore reduce the sizes of some sports, then of course you could have more than 28.

“Even within some well-established sports there might be some disciplines that are not universally popular, and if those are taken up then fresh blood could be brought in.

“We should consider a more creative approach to the Olympic programme and I think the process to allocate the Games [to a host city] could be simplified too.

Oswald said that he would also seek to implement changes to the IOC’s structure and operations, adding: “I have developed many ideas about operations and the statuses of members. I think we should give IOC members more opportunities to contribute and more responsibility than they have today, but this is something that I would need to discuss with them first.”

The presidential candidate, who refused to comment on his five rivals – Thomas Bach, Ng Ser Miang, Richard Carrion, Ching-kuo Wu and Sergei Bubka – said that his goals as president of the IOC would be “pragmatic".

He added: “There would be no big sentences and empty words. There would be proposals that could be implemented quite quickly.”

Keywords · IOC · Denis Oswald · Olympics

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