Why I'm throwing my hat into the ring for the IOC president's job

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:01pm


Nine days into the 30th Summer Olympiad and there are differing opinions on what has been the highlight so far. But there is absolutely no question about what has been the lowlight. The gold medal for most pedantic and painfully boring performance was won almost before the Games began when the IOC president Jacques Rogge gave his address during the opening ceremonies.

Rogge's scripted delivery was contrived and passionless. It was from another time that, fortunately, is almost over. Rogge will be retiring at the end of this year and he has actually done some progressive things, particularly in comparison with the oligarch he succeeded in 2001, the late Juan Antonio Samaranch. Rogge was an Olympian as well, having competed for Belgium in yachting at the 1968, '72 and '76 Olympics. The man who is seen as his likely successor is 58-year-old German Thomas Bach, who won a gold in fencing in 1976.

If that line of succession should hold, then the past 32 years of Olympic presidents will have been an aristocratic member of the Spanish fascist movement in Samaranch, an orthopaedic surgeon who is an avowed yachtsman and has been made a count in the Belgian nobility in Rogge, and a lawyer who is a champion fencer and has a Doctor Juris Utriusque degree in Bach. No, it's not exactly government of the people, for the people.

But then again this is the incurably regal and Eurocentric IOC. Imagine, though, what a fresh face at the helm would do for the Olympic movement globally. If, as Rogge has repeatedly said, the IOC 'aims to create more possibilities for developing countries', then make the next president an African or a South American or even an Asian, an American, a Canadian, a Kiwi or an Aussie for that matter.

It won't happen, of course, not enough castles in those countries. Still, the potential for change is intoxicating, which is why I hereby throw my hat into the ring and demand consideration as the ninth president of the IOC. I realise that I have a better chance of being elected chief executive of Hong Kong than I do head of the IOC. Still, I come armed with a series of reforms and ideas to support my candidacy, and primary among them is vigilantly protecting the Olympic brand globally.

I am fairly certain Rogge has no idea what sort of travesties are being perpetuated by some of their broadcasting partners worldwide. Here in Hong Kong, host broadcaster iCable fought tooth and nail to prevent local TV from showing the IOC-mandated 200 hours of free-to-air coverage. After a last-minute detente was reached, it turned out three of the four Olympics channels on iCable did not offer bilingual audio, which was news to a number of English-speaking subscribers who signed up for iCable primarily to watch the Olympics. Of course, the selection of sports the broadcaster chose to show was dubious at best and one more reason why there needs to be a global broadcasting protocol where all viewers can pick and choose what they want to watch, like the BBC offers.

Throughout Asia and further abroad, there is a plethora of complaints from viewers questioning the programme choices made by unqualified local flunkies. The IOC needs to take that choice away from them. It needs to protect the brand globally. It is also time for the IOC to look forward and not backwards.

At the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, pole dancing should be in. Of all the things we could call the London Games, exotic is not one of them. But Rio is a totally different animal and the IOC has to respect local culture. In the 120-year history of the modern Olympics, they have never been to a place like Rio. In London, beach volleyball is located in a clever and scenic venue in Horse Guards Parade. In Rio, it will be smack dab in the middle of Copacabana Beach. Can you imagine what that is going to look like? It will make pole dancing - which wants to be included in the Rio Games - look tame.

'These women are incredible athletes,' said Timothy Trautman, president of the International Pole Sport Federation. 'They have such grace and elegance and they absolutely belong in the Olympics. But we do fight the stereotype that it's for strippers.' It won't matter in Rio. The majority of people attending and participating in 2016 will be in various states of undress because it's as much a part of that culture as wearing an overcoat is in London. Respecting and acknowledging local culture while ensuring the entire world gets to watch the Olympic sports they want on TV, that's the platform I'm running on for the job of IOC president. We implement those reforms and who knows, world peace may soon follow.