Golden 25: #3 -- The IOC's Big Thinker

(ATR) Thomas Bach takes the lead to bring new ideas and influences to the IOC.

(ATR) IOC President Thomas Bach takes the lead in bringing new ideas and influences to the IOC.

Shortly after his election in 2013, he came up with Olympic Agenda 2020, a compendium of 40+ recommendations to guide the Olympic Movement forward towards sustainability and younger audiences. Sometimes derided, often praised, the Bach doctrine has become a guiding principle during his presidency.

In 2019, the IOC president faces a series of key challenges. He will be at the forefront of efforts to keep both 2026 Winter Games bidders in the race until the end. Look for Bach to be in regular contact with government leaders from Italy and Sweden to keep them comfortable with their support of their respective bids.

Bach is deeply concerned about the developments with Olympic boxing federation AIBA. An IOC inquiry group could recommend the end of the federation to the IOC session in June, an unprecedented disciplinary move. While the IOC has cited several issues of worry with AIBA, Bach is disappointed with the election of Gafur Rakhimov as president of the federation in November. Rakhimov is on a U.S. Treasury Department list of suspected organized crime figures in Russia. Rakhimov is contesting the designation. Bach believes the reputational risk to the Olympics overall is damaging.

As the IOC looks forward to the Games of the future, Bach has opened the door to consider what kind of relationship the Olympics could have with the growing phenomenon of esports. He’s made it clear the reservations he has about violent games and the question of whether the activity is actually sport. The coming year might bring some decisions.

The chairmanship of the World Anti-Doping Agency will be changing in late 2019 from a representative of sport to one from government, the other stakeholder in the agency. There is considerable quietude amid the various parties in the fight against doping, some of it fostered by the IOC when it lifted its sanctions against Russia right after the 2018 Winter Games.

Bach, who just celebrated his 65th birthday, has two years to serve until his initial eight-year term ends. He can run for an additional four years and will be able to stay an IOC member until he’s 80 in 2032.

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.