The International Olympic Committee, which had voted as expected by tapping Tokyo as its 2020 Olympic host city and keeping wrestling in the program, did the same on Tuesday in the choice of its next president, selecting German lawyer Thomas Bach to succeed Jacques Rogge, the Belgian orthopedic surgeon who stepped down after the maximum 12 years.
Bach, who’d been the clear favorite in a six-candidate field, is the eighth of nine presidents in the IOC’s 119-year history to come from a European country. Avery Brundage, the American construction magnate who ruled from 1952 to 1972, was the only outlier. The 59-year-old Bach, who outpolled Puerto Rico’s Richard Carrion by a 49-29 margin on the second ballot, is the first Olympic champion to hold the post, having won a team fencing gold medal with West Germany in 1976.
“It is what I, and many of the others, had anticipated,” said Prince Albert of Monaco, a former Olympic bobsledder. “I think it was very clear. You can’t argue with his experience and his leadership and his great knowledge about the Olympic movement and the world of sports and also the outside world. I think we are getting a great president.”
Bach, an IOC vice president and executive board member who joined the IOC in 1991, had the most complete résumé among the contenders, including chairing the legal commission and heading doping investigations. He also had outspoken support from Kuwaiti member Sheik Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah, who reportedly lined up Asian voters who otherwise might have opted for Singapore’s Ng Ser Miang or Taiwan’s C.K. Wu. The other two European candidates — Ukraine’s Sergei Bubka, the former Olympic pole vault champion, and Switzerland’s Denis Oswald, the outgoing head of the international rowing federation, received nine votes combined on the second ballot.
“I want to be a president for all of you,” said Bach, whose motto is unity and diversity. “This means I will do my very best to balance well all the different interests of the stakeholders of the Olympic movement . . . You should know that my door, my ears and my heart are always open for you.”
The US, meanwhile, gained significant clout on the committee as Anita DeFrantz was returned to the executive board where she last served in 2001 and USOC president Larry Probst was elected as the fourth American member of the full body, joining DeFrantz, Jim Easton and Angela Ruggiero. Their election was viewed as a sign of the improved relationship between the USOC and the IOC in the wake of last year’s long-term revenue-sharing agreement that will provide the IOC with a bigger cut of TV and sponsorship fees and clear the way for a potential American bid for the 2024 Games.