Erick Thohir, the businessman who is President of football giants Inter Milan, has been elected chairman of the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) to replace the country’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Rita Subowo.
Former deputy Thohir will lead the body for the next four years after beating sole rival EF Hamidy by 59 votes to 46 in an election held at the Sheraton Hotel in Jakarta.
This came after the election was delayed by 24 hours due to “strong debate”, with a third candidate, Muddai Madang, having withdrawn ahead of the election before being later named as deputy general chairman.
Dodi Iswandi was named secretary general with Dasril Anwar as his deputy.
Thohir will replace Subowo, who has also been removed from a list of IOC members on the body’s website, a position she has held since 2007 by virtue of her KOI Presidency.
She did not stand for President again having served a maximum term in office.
One of Indonesia’s best known businessmen, Thohir’s family own the holding company, TNT Group, which has stakes in firms across a variety of sectors across energy sectors, automotive dealers, automotive financing, media, restaurants and real estate.
He is best known for his interest in sport, however, buying a 70 per cent stake in Italian heavyweights Inter Milan in September 2013 to replace Massimo Moratti as President.
The 45-year-old is also a majority shareholder in Major League Soccer club D.C. United and President of the Southeast Asia Basketball Association.
His appointment comes at a key time for Indonesia just three years ahead of the Jakarta and Palembang Asian Games in 2018, hailed as one of two major challenges along with next year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“The future challenge is not easy with the Olympic Games being the closest one,” Thohir told delegates after his victory.
“In the next one or two weeks coordination will be made.
“We ask for your support.
“I think today was special.
“We must not always clash but must be united.”
Indonesia has won six Olympic gold medals, all in badminton, but its only medals at London 2012 were a silver and a bronze in weightlifting: silver for for Triyatno in the men’s under 69 kilograms division and bronze for under 62kg lifter, Eko Yuli Irawan.
Away from sport, KOI has also faced tension in its relationship with the Indonesian National Sports Committee (KONI) in recent years, with the latter body being officially warned by the IOC earlier this year for the use of the Olympic Rings in its logo.