Marius Vizer was today elected the new President of SportAccord, beating his only rival, Bernard Lapasset.
Vizer, President of the International Judo Federation (IJF), polled 52 votes to his rival’s 37 to replace Hein Verbruggen, the controversial Dutchman who had held the post since 2004.
“Thank you very much for the trust you have placed in me by electing me as the President of SportAccord,” said Vizer, a 53-year-old based in Hungary. “Working together with you, we can certainly do great things. I would also like to congratulate Bernard for his excellent campaign and I wish him all the best.”
Vizer’s election is set to mark a radical new era for SportAccord, the umbrella organization for all Olympic and non-Olympic international sports federations as well as organizers of multi-sports games and sport-related international associations.
The main pledge in his manifesto was the introduction of a new united World Championships involving all 91 members of SportAccord to be held in the same country every four years.
Vizer hopes to launch the new concept as early as 2017 and already has a list of sponsors lined-up, including Gazprom, the Russian Government-owned energy supplier.
He now plans to begin detailed discussions with the sports, who range from established Olympic sports like athletics and boxing to its newest member, cheerleading, who will see their election today as the first step on the long road to being included on the Olympic program.
Vizer again insisted that he did not want his Championships to be a rival to the Olympics.
“I want to work with all the sports – Olympic and non-Olympic – and to develop the idea in partnership with everyone connected with the Olympic Movement,” he said.
Other proposals launched by Vizer include opening regional offices around the world, setting-up an in-house television production team and a new SportAccord University.
In contrast, proposals put forward by Lapasset, chairman of the International Rugby Board, were far less far-reaching, who tried to imply in his speech that Vizer’s World Championship plan would jeopardize SportAccord’s close relationship with the International Olympic Committee.
“I would like to congratulate Marius,” said the Frenchman.
“I will now get behind him and support him to lead SportAccord forward.”
Vizer revealed that he has no plans to step down from his role as IJF President, a position he has held since 2007.
“It is a well-known fact that my life has been dedicated to judo and sports in general and this shall remain unchanged,” he said.
“I am ready to put my time and energy to the service of development and progress of all sports.
“By combining Judo with SportAccord activities, I consider that we can bring more values in both organizations.”
Verburggen, meanwhile, will stay on as Honorary President, mirroring his position at the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Inside the Games is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.