Presidential race just one hot IOC issue
As six candidates vie to succeed Rogge, many other Olympic matters loom
As Jacques Rogge called the executive board meeting to order, signs of change were staring him right in the face.
Four of the six candidates vying to succeed Rogge as International Olympic Committee president were sitting around the same conference table. The two other contenders were down the hall in the same convention centre in St Petersburg, Russia, mixing with the delegates.
With just over three months until the election, the IOC presidential campaign is one of a series of hot-button issues stirring up the Olympic movement.
Rarely have so many critical questions and decisions come together at the same time - the president's race, the bidding for the 2020 Olympics, the fate of wrestling and proposed new sports, the role and future of the World Anti-Doping Agency, muscle-flexing by various power brokers and kingmakers.
"There's a lot of politically loaded decisions that will have occurred in the last six months of my mandate," Rogge said.
Rogge's departure in September after 12 years as president has created the opportunity for power plays around the Olympic world. Organisations and individuals are staking out positions and forging alliances.
The political manoeuvring was in overdrive at the SportAccord convention and IOC meetings in St Petersburg, where presidential hopefuls, bid cities, sports federations, national Olympic committees, consultants, strategists and spin doctors all lobbied for their agenda.
"With the elections, things are changing a little bit," veteran Swiss IOC member and international ski federation chief Gian-Franco Kasper said. "There's a lot of rumours, a lot of gossip, but things are really moving at the moment."
The road show moved to New York last week, with the key players attending the third International Forum on Sport for Peace and Development at the United Nations.
Next stop on the campaign trail: the Association of National Olympic Committees assembly in Lausanne, Switzerland, next Friday. The candidates return to Lausanne on July 4 to present their manifestos to IOC members. From there, it will be a mad sprint to the finish line in Buenos Aires, with the 100-plus IOC members voting by secret ballot on September 10.