BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, September 10. AFTER an exciting weekend at the International Olympic Committee’s annual session that saw Tokyo earning the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, the meeting concluded with the election of Germany’s Thomas Bach as the ninth IOC president.
Bach succeeds Jacques Rogge, who had the reins of the most prominent sport governing body for 12 years. Rogge had reached the IOC term limit, and was deemed as a man who successfully turned around the world view of the IOC as a corrupt entity, especially after the bribery scandals that erupted after the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Rogge had also reinvigorated the organization after succeeding Juan Antonio Samarach, who many believed had turned the Olympics into a commercial event more than a pure sporting extravaganza.
“Thank you very much to all of you,” said Bach. “Let us, this great universal orchestra of IOC members, play together in harmony towards a bright future for the Olympic Movement under the leadership of the IOC.”
Bach has been a part of the IOC for 22 years in various positions, and was believed to be the frontrunner for the position. The other five candidates had various strengths they wanted to bring to the presidency, but none connected with voters as well as Bach.
In his life as an athlete, Bach was a gold medalist in the team foil event at the 1976 Olympics. Aside from his work with the IOC, Bach led Munich’s push to host the 2018 Olympics, which ultimately was awarded to Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Bach’s road to the presidency was quick. He won the majority of the IOC Committee votes in the second round of voting today. He is the eighth IOC president to hail from a European country, something many believed would work against Bach in this voting.
Also in meetings today in Argentina, nine new IOC members were elected:
Octavian Morariu of Romania, Bernard Rajzman of Brazil, Mikaela Maria Antonia Cojuangco-Jaworski of the Philippines, Alexander Zhukov of Russia, Paul Kibii Tergat of Kenya, Lawrence Probst III of the United States, Dagmawit Girmay Berhane of Ethiopia, Camiel Eurlings of the Netherlands, Stefan Holm of Sweden.
Holm is the only new member with a background as an athlete. He won Olympic gold for Sweden in 2004 in the high jump. Zhukov is the Russian Olympic Committee’s president, and Probst serves in the U.S. Olympic Committee as chairman of the board of directors.
“I’m honored by today’s election and proud to serve as a member of the International Olympic Committee,” Probst said today in a statement. “It has been a great privilege to serve as chairman of the United States Olympic Committee and I look forward to continuing our collective efforts to advance the Olympic Movement and its important values of respect, friendship and excellence.”
Earlier this year, Olympic swimming champion Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe was elected to the IOC Athlete’s Commission and thus is one of the 112 IOC members. She joins Canadian Dick Pound and Russian Alexander Popov as the other Olympic swimmers on the IOC member list.