On the Upcoming Re-Election of the IOC President
Berlin, March 9, 2021. We congratulate Dr Thomas Bach on his expected next term as President of the International Olympic Committee. We recognize the difficult and challenging leadership role that Dr Bach faces amid the pandemic and in light of the unique dynamics of the international sport political landscape.
The Olympic Movement faces a multitude of challenges that it must address in a timely and comprehensive manner. Athlete rights, anti-doping reforms, governance standards, sustainability, and the human rights due diligence of sport are just a few of many pressing issues and questions. Great hopes have been raised with past strategic objectives. We sincerely hope that these will be fulfilled in the coming term. We ask that Dr Bach will exercise his leadership role and use his influence for far-reaching change for the IOC and the Olympic Movement.
The overarching goal must be to restore the credibility of the Olympic Movement – both among athletes and in civil society. The much-vaunted values of sport should correspond to the conduct of its institutions. Unfortunately, a lot of trust has been lost in the past and with startling regularity. Too often, the organizations of world sport are associated with a lack of transparency, corruption, conflicts of interest, gigantism, bad governance, mismanagement, and abuse of power. This damages sport, its potential for society, and not least its athletes.
To Maximilian Klein, Representative for International Sport Policy, this assessment means the following: “Far-reaching structural and cultural change at many levels of the sport system is inevitable. This should start with the IOC itself. The legitimacy problem and the democratic deficit of the IOC leadership should be resolved; democratic reforms of the sports system should be introduced. For example, a democratic, more open, and thus more accessible election system could replace the current system of self-recruitment of IOC members. Committees should be opened to all stakeholders, especially athletes. Concentration of power must be reduced, and true separation of powers established at many levels of the sport system.”
Athletes should be granted more voting and participation rights in delegation and decision-making processes as well as in the distribution of resources. In the run-up to the upcoming re-election, a democratic contest of ideas between several candidates would have been desirable. The highest position in the IOC should above all be there for the athletes. However, they have hardly any rights of participation in its election. As President of the IOC, Dr Bach will continue to be the most powerful man in Olympic sport. This gives him the chance to be remembered as a reformer in the history of the Olympic Movement. We wish him every success in these difficult tasks and challenges.