Paris 2024 Bid Chief Could Lead IOC Athletes' Commission

(ATR) Canoe champion Tony Estanguet is in line to become chairman of the athletes panel in 2018.

(ATR) Changes to the International Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission could open the chairmanship of the commission -- and a seat on the IOC Executive Board for Paris 2024 chief Tony Estanguet.

Estanguet is the current vice chair of the commission behind Angela Ruggiero of the U.S. Ruggiero will be stepping down in February at the end of her eight year mandate which included two as commission chair. She is coincidentally a member of the Los Angeles 2024 executive team, chief strategy officer. She's a four time medalist in ice hockey.

Estanguet was elected to the commission at the London 2012 Games and is set to conclude his term at Tokyo 2020. He's won three gold medals in slalom canoe.

The chair of the commission automatically becomes a full IOC EB member. A new Athletes Commission chair will likely be elected on the final day of the 2018 Olympics, when two new Winter Olympians take the place of Ruggiero and Pengilly as members of the panel.

Pengilly's departure from the commission will be notable due to his outspoken nature on athlete issues, particularly in the case of the Russian doping scandal. Pengilly was the only IOC member to oppose IOC president Thomas Bach's proposal to not impose a blanket ban on Russian athletes at the Rio 2016 Games. He competed for Great Britain in skeleton.

On July 10, the IOC confirmed six nominees - all Winter Olympians - to fill the two openings at an election during the PyeongChang 2018 Games.

The six athletes vying for IOC membership are: cross-country skier Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen of Norway; skeleton athlete Ander Mirambell of Spain; cross-country skier Kikkan Randall of the U.S.; Finnish ice hockey Olympian Emma Terho; Chinese speed-skater Hong Zhang; and Italian luger Armin Zoeggeler.

"I am delighted with the caliber of candidates running for a place in the IOC Athletes’ Commission," Ruggiero said in an IOC statement. "I have every confidence in each candidate to strongly represent athletes in the Olympic Movement and continue the excellent work of the IOC Athletes’ Commission to date."

The candidates representing five sports across three continents were each nominated by their National Olympic Committees. Since each country may only have one athlete representative on the IOC at a time, the departure of Ruggiero opens the door for Randall and the U.S. to potentially retain a spot on the commission. Great Britain did not nominate anyone to replace Pengilly.

Outside of Ruggiero and Pengilly, the current commission consists of members from France, Zimbabwe, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Russia, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The commission currently only has one Winter Olympian, Canada’s four-time ice hockey gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser who was elected during the Sochi 2014 Winter Games.

The election of the next two Athletes’ Commission members will take place during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics that begin on Feb. 9. Each athlete participating in the PyeongChang 2018 Games is eligible to vote in the election.

The two elected Olympians will become IOC members for an eight-year term.

IOC president Thomas Bach appointed a six-person committee to oversee the Athletes’ Commission election including Nicole Hoevertsz, Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, James Tomkins, Dagmawit Girmay Berhane, Ivo Ferriani and Mikaela Cojuangco Jaworski.

"Today, we discussed the key challenges of the Olympic Movement relating to athletes and highlighted the ways in which our strategy would help address these points," said Ruggiero.

The Commission's finalized strategy for the coming years will be presented to the IOC EB at its meeting preceding the IOC Session in Lima, Peru where the 2024 – and likely the 2028 – Olympic host city will be elected.

Los Angeles and Paris are the only two remaining bid cities in the 2024 host city campaign. The EB will take place from Sep. 11-12 with the Session beginning on Sep. 13.

Written by Kevin Nutley

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