A “new entity” undertaking a narrower breadth of roles is being envisaged as a likely replacement to SportAccord, insidethegames has been told.
It follows belated confirmation that Russia has withdrawn its contract to host next year’s SportAccord Convention in Sochi, as well as the subsequent three editions that it had loosely committed to stage, an open secret within the Olympic Movement over the last month but something only now officially confirmed.
When revealing this to insidethegames here today, Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) executive director Andrew Ryan claimed at least four alternative cities have already expressed interest in hosting the annual event.
Confirmation of Russia’s withdrawal is therefore a “big relief”, he claimed, as it allows a process to find a replacement host to officially begin, a hunt expected to remain under the control of SportAccord Convention managing director Nis Hatt.
At present, a 45 per cent stake in the Convention is owned by SportAccord, with 35 per cent controlled by ASOIF, 15 per cent by the Association of Winter Olympic International Federations (AIOWF) and a further “floating” five per cent.
But, while there is a collective will to sustain the annual Convention, considered a vital meeting point for all stakeholders in the Olympic Movement and the venue for meetings and General Assemblies for all the constituent bodies, the future of SportAccord itself appears far less certain.
At an “informal” dinner meeting at the Beau Rivage Hotel last night, it was suggested that a new body could emerge of which the primary responsibility is simply to organise the Convention.
Many of the other roles played by SportAccord were deemed unnecessary as similar responsibilities are already carried out by other bodies such as the IOC and Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).
What roles this body could play will have to be discussed with all stakeholders, Ryan explained, with some sort of anti-doping responsibility or commitment to organise an event like the World Mind Games, possible.
But it will certainly be far smaller than the sweeping influence envisaged by former SportAccord head, Marius Vizer, who resigned last week following a widespread loss of support after he fiercely criticised the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
After Vizer accused the IOC of a lack of transparency and claimed that its President Thomas Bach had tried to block a number of initiatives, every Summer Olympic sport body except for the Vizer-led International Judo Federation signed a letter supporting the decision of ASOIF to “disassociate” its affiliation with SportAccord.
The International Paralympic Committee, Commonwealth Games Federation, AWOIF and Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF) all made similar moves and 22 Olympic sports and seven non-Olympic sports withdrew or suspended their membership before Vizer resigned on May 31.
Peruvian capital Lima also withdrew as host of the SportAccord-organised World Combat Games, which had been due to take place in 2017, casting doubt on the future of that event,.
It can be assumed Russia will withdraw from hosting the World Beach Games in 2019, leaving ANOC to take up the mantle of that event.
“We can thank the former President of SportAccord for bringing this to the front so we can solve all these issues that are causing problems,” Ryan told insidethegames.
With regard to services, he pointed out how they “need to be responsible and look at a way to find these services to operate”, before outlining how the IOC had already committed to providing some support to replace roles previously provided by SportAccord.
Such action, if it materialises, would represent a distinct historical repetition, with both ASOIF and AIOWF having been set up in the early 1980s during the tenure of former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch precisely to reduce the power of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), the body which several decades later became known as SportAccord.
But many questions remain, such as whether the new entity will assume the 45 per cent stake in the SportAccord Convention or, if not, who else will cover this cost.
As it stands, SportAccord senior vice-president Gian-Franco Kasper appears to be fulfilling the SportAccord Presidential roles, but only on a very ad-hoc and short-term basis, with plans for the new body having detracted from immediate decisions on next steps therein.
There is also likely to be many varying opinions on the new plans with former secretary general and International Softball President Don Porter having told insidethegames today that the body should return to its original GAISF name and role.
He added: “The commercialisation of SportAccord was overdone, and was not intended as a competitor with the IOC and the NOCs, but to unite the Federations in a common cause to help solve problems common among the Federations and communicate to improve competitions and development of sport.”
This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Inside the Games.