Thomas Bach has been re-elected president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until 2025, when he will complete the maximum period of 12 years in the position allowed by the Olympic Charter.
The German leader received the favorable vote of 93 members of the body’s assembly, gathered electronically in its 137th Session. There was a vote against and 4 abstentions. “I am deeply moved,” said Bach, before thanking in all the languages spoken within the IOC.
Bach was the sole candidate in these elections, which he wanted to celebrate in Athens, the cradle of Olympism. The pandemic got in the way of their purpose. Elected president in 2013 in Buenos Aires, Bach announced in July 2020 that he would run for re-election after completing his first eight-year term, to add the other four that contemplate the Olympic rules. In December it was confirmed that there would be no more applicants.
Is he 9th President of the IOC, after the Greek Demetrius Vikelas (1894-1896), the French Pierre de Coubertin (1896-1925), the Belgian Henri de Baillet-Latour (1925-1942), the Swede Sigfrid Edström (1942-1952), the American Avery Brundage (1952-1972), the Irishman Michael Morris, Lord Killanin (1972-1980), the Spanish Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980-2001) and the Belgian Jacques Rogge (2001-2013).
Although the election was organized to give a certain solemnity to the procedure, with the resignation of Bach moments before the vote and the transfer of the command staff to the first vice president, the American Anita DeFrantz, there was no surprise and the die was cast for months.
Before the vote, Bach had an absolute leading role in the first hours of the Session with two long speeches: his opening speech, focused on the promise of a safe Games in Tokyo next July, and a report on the degree of compliance with Agenda 2020, the roadmap that the IOC approved in 2014 to modernize and gain transparency and good governance.
This dissertation was, de facto, a comprehensive summary of the achievements of Bach’s first term and, therefore, the closest thing to the end-of-campaign rally that every electoral candidate does.
The fight against doping, the growing role of athletes in the IOC, the diversity of gender and nationalities in its working committees, the holding in Rio de Janeiro of the first Games in South America and the “revolutionary” new way of choosing the headquarters of the Games – without campaigns costing “tens of millions” and involving “serious ethical problems” – were some of the points highlighted by Bach about the performance of the IOC under his presidency in recent years.
He also highlighted, as a priority, the work carried out to advance the organization of the Tokyo Games, on which inauguration on July 23 “there is no reason to doubt”.
Bach’s report on Agenda 2020 was approved with 95 votes in favor and 4 abstentions. But, unlike when he became president eight years ago, when he had the opposition of four other candidates, Bach did not need to win the favor of the voters today, because he already had it. Almost thirty members, both the most veteran members, such as Anita DeFrantz – who made him cry when she defined him as “a visionary” – as well as those who recently joined the IOC, the case of the president of the FIFA, Gianni Infantino, asked to speak to praise the direction taken by the Olympic ship with the German at the helm. With their vote in favor of re-election they recorded their overwhelming support for the president.