IOC Backs Away from Kasper Comments

(ATR) FIS President's controversial comments find no home inside the headquarters of the IOC.

(ATR) The IOC says it does not share opinions of FIS President Gian Franco Kasper, where he states working with dictators is beneficial for the Olympics and denies climate change.

Kasper gave a wide ranging interview this weekend to the Tagesanzeiger newspaper in Switzerland on the eve of the 2019 International Ski Federation alpine world championships in Are, Sweden. Kasper was a member of the IOC from 2000 to 2018, and is currently an honorary member. He has been president of FIS since 1998.

In the interview Kasper spoke of "so-called climate change", the gigantism of the Winter Olympics, and how administering the Games is "easier for us in dictatorships".

"This is the personal opinion of Gian Franco Kasper which is not shared by the IOC," Mark Adams, IOC spokesperson, said in response in an email to Around the Rings.

"We would welcome any proposals to reduce the size of the Olympic Winter Games from FIS, which is responsible for nearly half of the quota of athletes at the Games,. As a member of every coordination commission for the last twenty years, including the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, Mr Kasper was always heavily involved in all the planning and preparations undertaken to deliver the Olympic Winter Games."

Kasper said that the Winter Olympics being "too expensive, too big," has made it all but impossible for the IOC to find new candidates to host. The 2026 race had four cities drop out due to failed referendums and two drop out due to lack of political support. The IOC did not shortlist Erzurum, Turkey, leaving just Stockholm-Are, Sweden and Milan-Cortina, Italy in the race to be the 2026 host.

However, Adams noted that FIS "asked for a number of new events and additional quota," but the IOC intervened and reduced the number of athletes as part of Agenda 2020 reforms.

For the 2022 Winter Olympics the IOC was limited to Beijing, China and Almaty, Kazakhstan as the only hosts. Both countries have been criticized by human rights groups for authoritarian governments.

"The interest in sports is increasing, the Olympics provides for entertainment," Kasper said. "The joy and sadness, the patriotism - it makes the Games unique.

"Dictatorships can perform such events, they do not have to ask the people."

He added that "from the business side, I say: I just want to go to dictatorships," but going to an authoritarian country investing in skiing at the expense of starving its population is "a red line".

Adams said that the IOC just staged a successful Winter Olympics in South Korea "which were very successful in every respect, including in sport and in finance," and that the IOC looks forward to selecting a future host city between Italy and Sweden.

On the issue of climate change, Kasper said that "there is no proof" of its definitive existence, but maintained that FIS works very hard in protecting the environment when building new ski slopes. He said skiing uses "a lot of energy," but "people are doing other stupid things than going to nature and skiing".

"I was at Olympics in Pyeongchang, at the beginning it was minus 35 degrees," Kasper said. "To anyone shuddering toward me, I said: Welcome to the global warming."

The IOC said that its work on sustainability and combating climate change "is central to the work" of the organization and that it is working to reduce its own footprint when advocating for solutions.

"The IOC is working with all Organising Committees to help reduce carbon emissions related to the Olympic Games, and it is guiding International Sports Federations and National Olympic Committees in their sustainability efforts, including actions to address climate change," Adams added. "At the recent UN Climate Change Summit, the IOC has taken a leadership role in the UN Sports for Climate Action initiative, which aims to drive climate action across the sports world."

Written by Aaron Bauer

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