SportAccord president resigns, challenges detractors

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SportAccord president Marius Vizer was critical of the International Olympic Committee and its reform agenda.
SportAccord president Marius Vizer has been critical of the International Olympic Committee and its reform agenda.

SportAccord president Marius Vizer has resigned following his scathing attack on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), firing parting shots at his detractors.

Vizer’s resignation follows growing unrest among international sporting bodies over the opening address he gave about six weeks ago during SportAccord’s annual General Assembly in Sochi, Russia.

Vizer launched a wide-ranging attack on the IOC, describing its system as expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent. He was critical of Agenda 2020, the major Olympic reform programme that won universal approval among IOC members early last December.

Vizer suggested it hardly brought any real benefit to sport, to international federations, or athletes.

His speech resulted in a major backlash from SportAccord members, with a growing number of international sporting federations either withdrawing or suspending their membership until the role of SportAccord was clarified.

The backlash was strongest among members of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF). A majority of its members, including the FEI, have suspended ties.

Every ASOIF member, except for the International Judo Federation, which is led by Vizer, signed a letter supporting the action against SportAccord.

Vizer, in his letter of resignation, said the past month had shown that, in the free world, there remained higher structures where the supreme value was silence.

He said he hoped that one day sport would become a completely transparent system, a moral code and a model for society.

“Everything I proposed is right,” he said of his own 20-point agenda. “And I hope to have opened a door that had been closed for a century, and I hope it remains open forever for the benefit of sport and its values.”

He continued: “Today, the system working behind the doors is dictated by nobility titles or family inherited titles, or by members appointed for life and I hope that in the future, the basic criteria of the system will be dictated by the achievements in sport, professionalism, performances, fair-play, transparency and the courage to express the truth.

“I only have one question for my self-suspended colleagues: Which proposal of the 20 points agenda that I submitted for the reform of sport did you disagree with? The prize money for athletes, the pensions for athletes, the transparency, the lack of criteria and principles of the IOC, the higher dividends for International Federations, the ownership of 50 percent of the Olympic TV Channel by the International Federations, with the lack of discrimination for the non-Olympic sports, with the transparency regarding the contracts and the salaries of the IOC staff and the consulting companies, with the implication of the Sport Ministries who finance your sport events and your National Federations?

“And if they don’t want to answer to me, they should answer them to the national federations and the athletes that they represent.”

Vizer said he had tried for two years to collaborate with the IOC, submitting numerous proposals for collaboration.

“These were always rejected without any plausible explanation.

“My door has always been open for collaboration, theirs was always closed.”

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