BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — With three major votes on the agenda, Olympic leaders begin weeklong meetings today that will bring a close to Jacques Rogge’s 12-year reign as IOC president.
The International Olympic Committee convenes in Buenos Aires to choose a host city for the 2020 Games, elect Rogge’s successor and add a sport to the 2020 lineup.
First up, Rogge chairs his policy-making executive board for the last time, a two-day meeting to review a range of Olympic issues.
The full IOC then convenes starting Friday for its 125th session, a landmark meeting that will set the Olympic movement’s direction for the next decade.
On Saturday, the 100 or so IOC members will vote by secret ballot on the 2020 host, a three-way contest between Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul. A day later, the members will choose between wrestling, squash and baseball-softball for a spot in the 2020 Olympics.
And next Tuesday, the IOC will elect a new president from among six contenders.
IOC vice president Thomas Bach, of Germany, has been considered the longtime front-runner to succeed Rogge.
Richard Carrion, a Puerto Rican banking executive who heads the IOC’s finance commission and vice president Ng Ser Miang, of Singapore, shape up as the other main contenders.
Also on the ballot are executive board members Sergei Bubka of Ukraine and C.K. Wu of Taiwan and former board member Denis Oswald of Switzerland.
Bach, a 59-year-old lawyer, is a former Olympic athlete, winner of a team gold medal in fencing in 1976. He has served at the top levels of the IOC for years and is president of Germany’s national Olympic committee.
Some members are uncomfortable with the pro-Bach lobbying by Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the influential Kuwaiti who heads the Association of National Olympic Committees. But Bach downplays the connection.
“I would, of course, be more than happy if the national Olympic committees would support me because I am an NOC president,” Bach said in telephone interview last week with The Associated Press. “But that is not enough. I want to be a president for all. You need the support from many different sides.”
The IOC is looking into comments made by Sheik Ahmad in a German television interview five months ago and aired last weekend. He openly expresses support for Bach and says he is doing everything he can to help him get elected.
Such comments are against IOC election rules. Sheik Ahmad could receive a warning or reprimand from the IOC ethics commission, though no severe sanctions are expected.
Carrion, the 60-year-old head of Puerto Rico’s Banco Popular, has earned respect as the IOC’s money man. He negotiated the record $4.38 billion deal with NBC for U.S. TV rights through 2020. He impressed members with his emotional notes-free speech during presentations by the six candidates in Lausanne in July.
“They liked what they saw. They liked what they heard,” Carrion told the AP. “I’m happy with what I’ve done. I’m following my plan. I’m where I wanted to be at this point.”
Ng, a 64-year-old businessman and diplomat, organized the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010 and represents an Asian continent that is growing in world influence.
“I believe in my heart that I have the independence, the integrity, the leadership qualities and the required experience to take the movement to new levels over the next eight years,” he said in a letter to IOC members last week.