New boss Bach lays out his priorities

IOC chief to tackle match-fixing and challenge of energising young to take more interest in sports

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 September, 2013, 3:26am


When newly elected International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach moves into his office in Lausanne on Tuesday he will be looking to build on predecessor Jacques Rogge's considerable legacy and also keen to set his own agenda.

The 59-year-old German - who last Tuesday won an overwhelming victory seeing off his five rivals to win in the second round of voting by his fellow IOC members - will have the Sochi Winter Olympics, which open in February, to focus his mind immediately.

However, in his post-victory press conference the affable lawyer - the first Olympic gold medallist to be elected to the most powerful job in sport - pinpointed match-fixing and engaging the young to practise more sport as two of the problems he will seek to tackle in his eight-year term.

Bach, who won team foil gold in fencing at the 1976 Olympics, said that while the battles against match-fixing and doping shared some characteristics the latter was easier to detect.

We should open up a dialogue with the younger generation, via the media and to listen very, very carefully
Thomas Bach

He also said it would be wrong to classify Asia as the problem area when it came to match-fixing. "I would not like to relate it [match-fixing] to a region of the world because the fight against match-fixing has to be an international one, this is a global fight," said Bach.

"The fight against match-fixing has certain similarities with the fight against doping but also major differences and we have to consider that when we determine our approach.

"In doping you have tests, strict liability and you have international arbitration. Unfortunately, there is no test for match-fixing so that means that the powers of sport are pretty much limited.

"As a consequence we have to work very, very closely with governments and other authorities and I see two ways of doing that.

"One is to encourage them, to request their help, to do whatever we can from our side and have closer co-operation of international police forces. This is why inside the IOC's working commission we also have representatives from Interpol.

"I am ready to pay tribute to Jacques Rogge on this point. We started this fight under him and we weren't convinced as an organisation what we had to do with match-fixing but since then a lot has been done."

Bach, though, said he wanted to go further in uniting different sovereign states in battling the problem.

"This is very ambitious. I want us in our contacts with the UN and Unesco to propose an idea of harmonisation, of international legislation against match-fixing and that doesn't exist at the moment. That makes the work of police forces more difficult. So I think in the short term we seek better co-operation and, longer term, we go after getting legislation passed."

The problem of preventing the young from becoming a generation of couch potatoes also concerned Bach.

That will please one of his presidential rivals, Sergey Bubka, who may be the greatest pole vaulter ever but for whom the election was a sobering experience as he finished last in the second round with just four votes.

Bach, who described the moment he was elected as making him feel humble, believes like Bubka that the answer to getting the young to exercise more lies in communicating with them.

"Communicating with young athletes and young people is key to my programme where I proposed that we should open up a dialogue with the younger generation, via the media and listen very, very carefully," Bach said.

"With regard to young athletes we have the Youth Olympic Games [one of Rogge's innovations].

"To get in closer contact with young athletes and embrace youth we also have to make sure we are not only addressing those young people who are already athletes but those who are consumers of sport.

"When we do speak with the younger generation we have to have our ultimate goal in mind. It is good the young watch sport on TV or on the internet.

"That is fine, but it is not the ultimate goal, which is to motivate them to participate in sports."

Agence France-Presse

New Lord of the Rings

Age: 59

Date of birth: December 29, 1953.

Born: Wurzburg, Germany.

Occupation: Lawyer.

Olympic participation: Team fencing (foil) gold medal at 1976 Montreal Games.

Sports practised: Fencing, tennis, soccer.

Year joined IOC: 1991.

IOC responsibility: Member of executive board 1996-2004; vicepresident 2000-04; vice president since 2006; chairman of evaluation commissions for 2002 Winter Olympics and 2004 Summer Games; chairman of juridical and sport and law commissions; chairman of antidoping disciplinary commissions; negotiator of European TV rights deals.

Other: President of German Olympic Sports Confederation since 2006.

He says: “I know of the great responsibility of an IOC president. This makes me humble. I want to lead the IOC according to my motto, ‘unity and diversity’. I want to be a president for all of you. This means I will do my very best to balance well all the different interests of the stakeholders of the Olympic movement.”