IOC Members Wanted: Seats Aplenty Open in 2018

(ATR) Seb Coe and Gianni Infantino might need to make travel plans for PyeongChang, South Korea. (ATR) Seb Coe and Gianni Infantino might need to make travel plans for PyeongChang, South Korea.

(ATR) Seb Coe and Gianni Infantino might need to make travel plans for PyeongChang, South Korea.

The two federation supremos may be anointed with nominations to join the IOC during the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

The IOC Executive Board is expected to meet via conference call in the coming days to approve nominations for IOC memberships. Those nominations would be confirmed by the IOC Session next month at the Winter Olympics. The session in February is the only one scheduled in 2018. The one set for 2019 will be 18 months later.

The seat traditionally held by the IAAF president has been vacant since the retirement in 2013 of Lamine Diack. Elected to the IAAF presidency two years ago, Coe would seem to have sterling credentials. As an Olympic champion, important federation chief and the leader of the London 2012 Olympics, his background would be unmatched on the IOC.

With the IOC about to experience a seismic churn in its membership over the next five years, bringing Coe aboard helps plug the brain drain. Between now and 2023, as many as two dozen current members will be leaving the IOC due to retirement or other reasons.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino would hold the IOC seat once occupied by Sepp Blatter, who resigned from the IOC in 2015. With the coming of the World Cup in Russia this year, naming Infantino an IOC member would mark a new chapter in the relationship between FIFA and the IOC.

Infantino and Coe are both leading their federations away from a morass of corruption and scandal that have had serious repercussions for the Olympics and world sport. Diack unleashed the doping and corruption scandal that has stricken Russian sport, summer and winter.

Infantino has a chance to prove that unlike his storied predecessors -- Blatter and Joao Havelange -- corruption is not a requirement for the job.

TheIOC Executive Board ratifies nominees for election who are selected by the appropriately named commission for the election of members. That five-member group is chaired by Princess Anne and is believed to have prepared a report for the board to consider regarding nominations in 2018.

With no regular meeting of the EB scheduled until just ahead of the IOC session in February, members will have to meet by conference call to prepare the nominations.

The IOC numbered 100 members as the year began after inducting one of its largest classes at the session in Lima last September. Eight new members were elected there. But last week, the membershipdropped to 99 when Camiel Eurlings of The Netherlands resigned in the face of continued controversy over his 2015 assault of a girlfriend.

The nomination of Czech NOC President Jiri Kejval, postponed from the Lima session, apparently will move ahead in February. That’s the only definite name proposed so far for the PyeongChang IOC Session.

Members retiring in 2018 include Mario Pescante, Nat Indrapana, Sam Ramsamy, Ung Chang, Tunku Imran, Richard Peterkin and Barry Maister.

Of those departing the IOC, most notable may be Ung Chang, who is the first IOC member from North Korea. That he should step down at the IOC session held at the first Winter Olympics on the Korean Peninsula is fitting.

Pescante, the courtly Italian politician, will step down as head of the International Relations Commission.

Ramsamy of South Africa will be remembered for his role in breaking the grip of apartheid on sport in his country.

Peterkin, from St. Lucia, is one of the members with a great background in finance who is outspoken on controversies.

Maister, from New Zealand, has been a strong voice from Oceania. Indrapana, elected in 1990, is the most senior of those who are retiring at age 80. From Thailand, he has been ill and not able to attend recent IOC meetings.

Besides the question of high profile federation leaders joining the IOC in 2018, there are still some important Olympic nations with open IOC seats.

For the first time in the history of the modern Olympics, there is no member in Greece since the retirement of Lambis Nikolaou two years ago. Cuba is absent a seat. Mexico is also lacking an IOC member. And now, The Netherlands.

Reported by Ed Hula.