Bach remains the favourite to fill Rogge’s shoes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 September, 2013, 4:58am


The six candidates bidding to be elected to the most powerful position in sport as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are girding their loins for one final day of campaigning in Buenos Aires.

Unassuming Belgian Jacques Rogge will step down today after a 12-year reign in what has been a largely successful term having notably been credited with restoring the image of the organisation. It is a considerable feat as Rogge had faced a tough task after the IOC had been badly tarnished in the final years of Juan Antonio Samaranch's stewardship over the bribes for votes scandal concerning the successful Salt Lake City bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

One of the six candidates - all men and none from Africa - will take over an IOC that Rogge revealed is in great financial health and, with over US$900 million in reserve, could afford the cancellation of an Olympic Games.

However, Rogge's successor will have been made painfully aware that his main headache will be the preparations for the Rio Games in 2016.

The favourite for replacing Rogge remains Thomas Bach, who would become the first Olympic gold medallist to assume the role having won the team foil fencing title in 1976.

The 59-year-old German lawyer has made the IOC and its future his life since becoming interested in sports politics when he was irritated at the dismissive manner in which German politicians treated him in his role as the West German athletes' spokesman in the debate over the boycott of the 1980 Olympics.

"In 1980 I was the spokesman for all the West German athletes and fought really hard for us to be able to compete in Moscow," he said in August.

"This for me was the turning point from being an athlete to entering sports politics.

"I accepted to become a member of the German NOC because I wanted to avoid the situation where a future generation of athletes would suffer in the same way - every athlete's ambition is to compete in an Olympics and for some 1980 was their only chance. We were more or less dismissed by them and it was the same with politics and society in general. I had discussions about the boycott with the then chancellor [Helmut Schmidt] and president [Karl Carstens] and I always had the feeling they had no interest in sport."

The only clouds hanging over him have come from within Germany. An academic report released in early August on organised doping in the former West Germany in the 1970s posed the question of whether he was aware of what was going on, which he says he was not.