For the first time in 98 years, a woman will preside over the Mexican Olympic Committee

Former diver María José Alcalá, a finalist in four Olympic Games, won by a wide margin the elections governed for the first time by secret ballot. Thomas Bach sent his deputy director, Peré Miró, as an observer.

María José Alcalá, primera presidenta del Comité Olímpico Mexicano (Twitter)
María José Alcalá, primera presidenta del Comité Olímpico Mexicano (Twitter)

November 11, 2021 will be remembered as a historic day for Mexican sport: former Olympic diver María José Alcalá became the first president of the Mexican Olympic Committee in the 98 years of its existence.

Alcalá, at the head of the “Voy por México” slate, won 87 votes to 46, against Norma Olivia González, of “Transparencia y Apertura”, and will succeed Carlos Padilla Becerra, who led the Olympic organization for nine years, at the head of the COM.

Olympic finalist in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, as well as world medalist in Rome 1994, Alcalá, also a federal deputy, will be in office until 2024 in this first mandate.

For the first time the COM elections were led by two female candidates, but also for the first time the secret ballot system was used instead of the traditional show of hands, after being submitted to the approval of the General Assembly held at the COM headquarters.

The meeting was attended by the Deputy Director General of the International Olympic Committee, Peré Miró, as an observer to attest to the transparency of the process.

Miró said that the COM is “very important” within the world arena of Olympic committees.

The IOC official had already fulfilled a similar function in 2005 when two candidates were bidding for the presidency, Felipe Muñoz Kapama, for reelection, and Pascual Ortiz. In that context, Olegario Vázquez Raña, president of the Mexican Shooting Federation, had first proposed the secret ballot, but without success, Padilla recalled Thursday.

COM Honorary President, Olegario Vázquez Raña, congratulates María José Alcalá
COM Honorary President, Olegario Vázquez Raña, congratulates María José Alcalá

Vázquez Raña, in his capacity as Honorary Life President of the COM, presided over the General Assembly, and according to Padilla was the one who asked IOC President Thomas Bach for the presence of an observer, specifically Miró, because of his previous experience.

María José Alcalá has a degree in Law with a master’s degree in Public Administration, and a master’s degree in Sports Organizations,

She also chairs the Sports Commission in the Chamber of Deputies, a position she may have to resign from in order to take on the new role.

Alcalá will have as first vice-president the former wrestler and 1984 Los Angeles silver medalist, Daniel Aceves Villagrán, president of the Association of Mexican Olympic Medalists.

According to reports, two ballots were withdrawn due to the fact that on Thursday morning the IOC informed the COM of the suspension of the Mexican Cycling Federation.

At the beginning of the meeting, Padilla presented his last report as president of the COM, and in his first point he made reference to the effects of the pandemic, its negative impact on the athletes’ preparation, and the sanitary measures that had to be adopted. The auditorium dismissed him with applause.