(ATR) Swedish NOC president Mats Årjes releases his manifesto in his bid to become the next International Ski Federation (FIS) president.
The former president of the Swedish Ski Association and a current FIS vice-president, Årjes vows to take the federation forward with bold ambitions for it to become the leading Olympic International Federation.
To achieve this lofty goal, Årjes proposes implementing the most extensive review in skiing’s history in order to identify where sustainable improvements can be made to realize the sport’s global potential.
"If elected, I am proposing an immediate review and consultation process, which will identify where we can improve and what tangible action we should take," Årjes said.
The Swedish sports leader’s manifesto focuses on four key areas – governance, stakeholder engagement, the environment and maximizing FIS assets.
Having been nominated by the Swedish Ski Association on March 23, Årjes becomes one of four candidates hoping to succeed longstanding FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper.
"We have a great heritage, but we must continue to move forward by innovating and demonstrating sustainable and long-term benefits for our National Associations, athletes, fans and all stakeholders," Årjes said.
"The world has been changed by the COVID-19 pandemic and we need to adapt to this new reality in order to safeguard our sport and ensure it fulfils its full potential.
"I believe strongly that the success of FIS will be achieved by drawing upon the huge pool of expertise and extensive experience that exists within our FIS family."
Årjes joins fellow candidates Johan Eliasch, the chief executive officer of the Head skis and tennis brand, Swiss Ski Federation president Urs Lehmann, a former downhill world champion, and former FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis, who was relieved of her duties by the FIS Council in October 2020. Årjes was one of the council members who unanimously voted to dismiss Lewis prior to this past winter season.
Årjes was also one of the primary players behind the Stockholm-Are bid to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games. The Swedish effort fell to Milano-Cortina by a 47-34 vote at the 134th IOC session in Lausanne in June 2019.
Prior to the defeat, Årjes touted Sweden’s bid and the large delegation of 107 Swedes from all facets of the public and private sectors that supported it.
"We are the most successful winter sports country in the world that has never hosted the Winter Games," Arjes said in June 2019.
"There might have been some concerns about the support in the beginning in the bid, but I think we have more than strong support from all different parts of our society, so we our really proud of our bid and we are looking forward to presentations," he said.
Årjes business and commercial background includes 17 years as the chief executive of SkiStar, Scandinavia’s leading snow tourism, ski and snowboard resort. Had Sweden won the 2026 bid, Alpine and freestyle skiing events would have been held in Are, SkiStar’s largest resort.
The experienced Swedish sports leader was president of the Swedish Ski Association from 2008-2018 and among his many roles, is also the FIS treasurer and chairman of FIS Marketing AG.
"Although I have a lot of experience that I would bring to the FIS Presidency, I also understand that I do not have all the answers," Årjes said.
"The future success of FIS will not be achieved by the president alone – it will require the input and contributions of the National Ski Associations.
"The short term priority is of course to ensure that our sport recovers from COVID-19," Årjes said.
The FIS will hold a virtual presidential election on June 4, to be conducted during an FIS Congress originally slated for Portoroz, Slovenia. It will be the first virtual election in the federation’s history.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
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