SportAccord Convention "Flying Again"

(ATR) After a troubled two years, Francesco Ricci Bitti says the annual conference has returned to good health.

(ATR) After a troubled two years, Francesco Ricci Bitti says the annual conference for sports federations has returned to good health.

"SportAccord we can say today is flying again," the convention chairman said, noting the success of the event in Aarhus.

Applications from 15 cities were received last week to host future SportAccord Conventions, he said, proving the organization was back on track.

Around 1,600 delegates drawn from 740 organizations and more than 100 international federations and associate members attended the event in the Danish city. Sixty-six companies or sports organizations exhibited.

The surge in interest in staging future editions comes after a turbulent 24 months precipitated by Marius Vizer’s scathing attack on the IOC in 2015 which triggered a mass exodus of federations from SportAccord, the umbrella federations body. Vizer’s outburst cast doubt on the future of the convention until he quit and Ricci Bitti took the helm to stabilize the organization.

"We have something still to do. But the main challenge put in front of me… the period of transition, I think we have achieved," he said.

Ricci Bitti said it was the "end to some extent of the challenging times that started in Sochi" where Vizer delivered his bitter tirade.

Bangkok was last week chosen as the host of the 2018 SportAccord Convention following a bidding contest between two cities.

Ricci Bitti said the field of candidates was now much wider for the 2019 edition and beyond, with cities in the Americas, Asia and Europe having expressed interest in meetings with convention organizers. Future events may see numbers rise to 2,000. "We are very flexible. We believe the number of delegates has to be accommodated in the best way," he told reporters at a briefing in Aarhus.

"We are very well equipped to make a choice in the next three or four years. This is great for us," he said.

He said SportAccord Convention was starting a new era: "After 15 years we start a new cycle only with a positive perspective."

The ASOIF president said that the 2019 host would likely be announced before the Bangkok SportAccord Convention.

Asked by Around the Rings if he’d like the IOC returning to stage its executive board meeting at the April convention, Ricci Bitti admitted that accommodating it was a "burden"… "I was never a great fan."

"I’m very happy to have the president and all vice presidents and staff. In terms of size, I believe we have enough IOC presence and participation in all the meetings of the international federations," he added. "But I am not excluding… if the IOC executive board wants to come… welcome."

Reported by Mark Bisson

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