POSTED: May 22nd 2015

Chorus of IFs resign from SportAccord over political crisis with the IOC

MARISSA FLANDERS and LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) A growing number of international sports federations have suspended themselves from the SportAccord umbrella after President Marius Vizer's public criticism last month at the opening of the organization's general assembly.

The numbers have grown this week, and now a total of 19 of the 100+ federations have abandoned SportAccord over the politics of Vizer's requests and attack on International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. 


The International Rowing Federation (FISA) and the Union International de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) have resigned as affiliated members of SportAccord this week.

UIPM's decision was based on their commitment to the Olympic Movement. Baron Pierre de Coubertin's legacy has eternally linked the Olympic spirit with the Modern Pentathlon. The UIPM has an active and genuine membership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).                                              

FISA informed SportAccord that their Executive Committee decided on their withdrawal as a member and one more, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), sent in their letter as well.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) posted a statement on their official website yesterday, "SportAccord's President Marius Vizer has been informed of the FEI Executive Board's decision," FEI President Ingmar De Vos said.

"The FEI, alongside many other International Sports Federations and the Association of Summer Olympic International Sports Federations will seek full clarity regarding SportAccord's role and mission, including a review of SportAccord's governance and management," he concluded.

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) issued a statement, "The Executive Committee of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has decided unanimously to respect the current ongoing process, and to join in solidarity with the ASOIF member international federations and to suspend effective immediately its membership with SportAccord indefinitely."

And the World Curling Federation (WCF) said basically the same, "The WCF Board is clear that the comments made in no way represent the position of the WCF as a stakeholder of the Olympic Movement.

Additionally, the manner in which the comments were made is contrary to the 'Spirit of Curling', something which is central to the rules and ideology of our sport."

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today joined the exodus stating "that the decision was ratified by the UCI Management Committee, based on the events surrounding the SportAccord General Assembly in April 2015 in Sochi (Russia)".

And the International Fencing Federation (FIE) today followed suit as well bringing the number today to 19, but you have to pay attention as federations are dropping almost daily. 

President Vizer publicly presented his 20 point Agenda of proposals yesterday elaborating on his requests to the IOC but the idea has not been received very well with the federations.

The President of the Association of Summer Olympic Federations (ASOIF), Francesco Ricci Bitti, sent Vizer a letter emphasizing that he was no longer in a position to represent the summer federations following the criticism of the IOC. 

Vizer has now requested a meeting with President Bach, however the IOC president has chosen to consult his Executive Board and stakeholders before granting the dialog. 

Agenda 2020

Much of Vizer's criticism stems from Bach's reform process, Agenda 2020, which was approved in Monaco at the IOC session last December. 

As ASOIF chief Ricci Bitti notes, Vizer was on Working Group #3 which studied "Differentiation of the Olympic Games".

The IOC Working Groups were named last May 14th and started meeting and discussing the various points back last June in Lausanne at the IOC Headquarters. There were innumerable times and opportunities for the SportAccord President to table his issues. 

The points for Group #3 to study were 1) Cooperate closely with other sports event organizers and this highlighted the World Games Association (IWGA) and the Masters Games Associations (IMGA) but did not mention the numerable SportAccord themed sports events like the Combat Games, the Mind Games or even the one big idea that Vizer floated, the United World Games; 2) Strengthen relationships with  with organizations managing sport for people with different abilities; and 3) Forge relationships with professional leagues.

So throughout the process there were numerous opportunities to inject the input of the federations.

Ricci Bitti notes in his letter as published by Around the Rings, "Many of your points have already been addressed within the framework of the IOC's Agenda 2020. After wide consultation, the subsequent set of proposals was approved unanimously by the IOC Session following an inclusive, open and transparent process. The International Federations participated fully in this process, including you as a member of one of the working groups and also at the IOC Summits , at the invitation of the IOC President. It seems from subsequent remarks and correspondence that apparently you failed to represent your views and opinions on those occasions . The IOC's various gatherings always offer opportunities to debate proposals and suggestions but I would emphasise to you that unity without agreement is a vacant concept.

"I urge you to politely refrain from speaking publicly on behalf of the international federations as they do not feel represented by SportAccord and more importantly do not agree with your views or the position you have taken."

** MARISSA FLANDERS is a graduate of Saint Leo University with a Bachelor's Degree in Sport Business. She has over four years of writing experience and has a real passion for ice hockey following the Pittsburgh Penguins on her blog

Keywords · SportAccord · UIPM · FISA · IOC · Vizer

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Laura Walden ()

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