Golden 25: #2 -- The Spirit of Patrick Baumann

(ATR) The multi-tasking IOC member from Switzerland may be impossible to replace.

BUENOS AIRES - ARGENTINA - 14th Oct 2018: 

IOC President Thomas Bach and FIBA President Horacio Muratore at the Urban Park during, a memorial service for former IOC Member Patrick Baumann.

Photography by Dave Thompson/IOC
BUENOS AIRES - ARGENTINA - 14th Oct 2018: IOC President Thomas Bach and FIBA President Horacio Muratore at the Urban Park during, a memorial service for former IOC Member Patrick Baumann. Photography by Dave Thompson/IOC

(ATR) Patrick Baumann, the multi-tasking IOC member from Switzerland, will be missed across the Olympic family. His sudden death in October at age 51 while attending the Youth Olympic Games was a shock to all.

Baumann held a collection of leading roles within the Olympics. He was about to become a favorite to succeed current IOC president Thomas Bach in 2025 when his mandate expires. Baumann would have been 58 and able to serve a full 12 years before hitting age 70 retirement. It’s an uncommon combination of timing that takes a number of senior members out of contention for the presidency.

Baumann’s spirit will be felt in Los Angeles, where he was the chair of the IOC CoComm for the 2028 Olympics. Baumann, also led the Evaluation Commission that led to the dual selection of Paris and LA. He was young enough to appreciate the California vibe and called the LA bid "cool". His replacement has yet to be named, but it seems likely to fall to one of the youngsters in the IOC who’ve joined in the past 10 years or so.

A new IOC member from Switzerland, Baumann’s home country, or one from FIBA, where he had been secretary general since 2002, is not guaranteed.

But an intriguing possibility for the IOC would be to nominate his successor at FIBA, Andreas Zagklis, who previously was director of legal affairs. The IOC is short on members who are leaders of the biggest federations, and Zagklis would help fill that gap. Plus, the 38-year-old Zagklis would mark the return of a Greek national to the IOC for the first time in nearly six years.

Baumann was a passionate advocate of 3x3 basketball, and suffered his fatal heart attack near the courts for the sport in Buenos Aires. It’s now up to FIBA whether it will maintain the energy Baumann directed toward the new discipline. Zagklis and president Horacio Muratore are expected to carry the momentum of Baumann forward. Michel FIlliau, who worked with Baumann on Olympics matters, continues to keep the FIBA leadership in tune with Lausanne.

Baumann’s spirit pervaded the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games. He led the bid and then became president of the organizing committee. Now just over a year away, a replacement has not been named. The combination of factors that made Baumann a perfect fit for Winter YOG will be hard to match: a Lausanne resident, a sports administrator and an IOC member.

The presidency of GAISF, the Global Association for International Sports Federations, has been taken by Rafaelle Chiulli, leader of the powerboat federation and the Association of Recognized International Federations.

Chiulli and GAISF have been assigned the question of how to incorporate esport into the international federation landscape. First steps toward the Olympics include formation of an international federation and GAISF membership.

SportAccord, the annual convention of the international federations, will now carry on without Baumann as president, who was chosen in 2017 to lead the group. Francesco Ricci Bitti has succeeded him but that won’t be for a full term.

Federation colleagues who follow in the spirit of Patrick Baumann include International Canoe Federation and World Games President Jose Perurena, International Triathlon President Marisol Casado, Beng Choo Low, VP of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, Fernando Aguerre from the International Surfing Association, International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer, and rowing fed president Jean-Christophe Rolland.

Ingmar DeVos, president of equestrian federation FEI, will be a sports leader to watch in the years ahead. As well experienced a sports administrator as Baumann, Belgian DeVos is also now an IOC member and works full time in Lausanne.

Baumann’s spirit of innovation and interest in building youth engagement in the Olympics could be a legacy of his career.

The Around the Rings Golden 25 is the annual survey of individuals who will have the most influence for the Olympic Movement in the year ahead. First published in 1997, this is the 22nd edition.

Reported by Ed Hula.

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