Olympic committee president Thomas Bach says term limits at the IOC ‘are necessary’

BY GRAHAM DUNBAR

One day after some Olympic officials urged him to scrap term limits and stay for four more years, IOC president Thomas Bach said Monday they “are necessary.” The German lawyer also took a public swipe at potential successor Sebastian Coe because some colleagues think he is campaigning too early.

The proposal on Sunday to remain as president, which Bach declined to dismiss, heaped negative headlines on the International Olympic Committee. It made the Olympic body seem ready to override a key anti-corruption reform passed following the Salt Lake City bid scandal 25 years ago.

Bach, whose 12-year presidential term ends in 2025, also said Monday his supporters were opposed to any campaigning by one potential candidate — Coe, the president of track body World Athletics and a two-time Olympic champion runner.

“A number of these colleagues think and feel that an election campaign so early before the election would be disrupting the preparations for the Olympic Games Paris, which are so important for the entire Olympic movement,” Bach said of the presidential vote set for March 2025.

Coe, who won back-to-back gold medals in the 1,500 meters, has said this year he is not ruling out a run for the IOC presidency. That was an untypical statement of intent in the discreet world of Olympic politics.

When Bach was asked Monday if his supporters wanted to stop Coe, he replied: “I leave that up to you.”

He also declined to specify if he might yet be a candidate himself in 2025.

Bach was a long-time favorite to become president before he was elected by IOC members in September 2013 in a six-candidate contest. IOC presidents get a first term of eight years and he was re-elected unopposed in 2021 for a final four years.

IOC members from Africa and Latin America used the organization’s annual meeting Sunday in Mumbai, India, to praise Bach’s leadership during global crises. They urged him to change its rulebook to permit a third term.

“They all wanted to express their recognition for the work having been accomplished by the IOC in the last 10 years,” Bach said.

“I have also yesterday made it clear how loyal I am to the Olympic Charter,” he said, referring to the rules and principles that guide global sports, “and having been a co-author of the Olympic Charter, also speak for the fact that I’m thinking term limits are making a lot of sense and are necessary.”

Bach, an Olympic gold medalist in fencing, also said at a news conference it would be disrespectful to dismiss his colleagues’ proposal through the media instead of direct personal contact.

Any proposal to amend the charter must be made at least 30 days before IOC members next meet in July in Paris on the eve of the 2024 Games.

Speculation on who could succeed Bach has included two of the IOC’s four vice presidents, Nicole Hoevertsz of Aruba and Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. of Spain. Zimbabwe sports minister Kirsty Coventry is also a possibility. The former Olympic swimmer is seen as a protege of Bach and was elected Monday to return to the 15-member IOC executive board through 2027.

Samaranch’s father was IOC president for 21 years from 1980 until 2001. He was succeeded by Jacques Rogge of Belgium, who had the maximum 12 years allowed by the post-Salt Lake City reforms.

Photo: AP Photo/Rafiq Macbool

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