Thomas Bach Wins Acclaim, Reelection

(ATR) The IOC president scores a near unanimous vote to serve a final term ... more

(ATR) Thomas Bach wins near unanimous support for a final term as IOC President.

The election came on the first day of a three day IOC Session being held virtually as a result of coronavirus concerns. The secret vote was 93 in favor, one against.

Bach’s reelection was assured in November when his was the only name put forward. When he was first elected in 2013, Bach, 67, was one of five candidates for the post. Under IOC rules he can serve a single four year extension of his mandate A gold medalist for Germany in 1976 for fencing, Bach is the ninth president since the IOC was founded in 1894.

There was little doubt of Bach’s popularity in the litany of interventions from members in the leadup to the vote. Gunilla Lindberg, a member of the Executive Board at the time of Bach’s election eight years ago termed his performance as president "splendid", her comments typical of the praise heaped on the IOC president in nearly two dozen interventions during the opening day of the Session.

The warm greetings concluded with IOC first vice president Anita DeFrantz recalling their common bond of both competing in the Montreal Olympics. She described Bach as an IOC president who brought not only good governance to the office, but "superb governance".

Bach was visibly moved by the outpouring of sentiment, forcing him to pause for a moment to collect his emotions.

At a press conference after the vote, Bach predicted that the impact of the pandemic would be a major challenge facing the IOC,

"We will keep turning challenges into opportunities," he said of the difficulties the world is enduring,

"Once it is over, we will still have to deal with the aftershocks of this health crisis,,,,but this is an opportunity for the Olympic Movement to use its values to help solve the crisis," he said.

UPDATED:Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos opened the second IOC session to be held virtually from iconic Panathenaic Stadium in Athens -- the same place where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896.

"Under different conditions the 137th IOC session would start right here, but the pandemic that stopped the world did not allow us to personally come here to Athens and to show you firsthand the Greek hospitality," Capralos, the IOC member in Greece, said.

Capralos said allowing the session to be opened virtually from the Greek capital was "a highly symbolic and honorable move that connects the country where the Olympic Games were born with the Olympic movement of the day."

"We may not be together today, but I welcome the proposal of the IOC executive board for the organization of the 2025 IOC Session in Athens," Capralos continued.

In his opening address, Bach expressed both confidence in and gratitude to Tokyo 2020 organizers for their "steadfast commitment to these Olympic Games."

"The question is not whether, the question is how these Olympic Games will take place" Bach said.

"This fight against the virus, as we all know, is a tough fight, but we are fighting this fight for and like Olympic athletes. This means with full determination, a will to win, hard work every day and with all the physical and mental strength we have."

Prior to Bach’s re-election, the IOC session voted unanimously (95-0) in favor of his closing report on Olympic Agenda 2020.

DeFrantz commended Bach for his innovative contributions to the movement, noting the introduction of the International Testing Agency, creation of mixed team events, partnership with the United Nation and the awarding of double host cities for the Games.

Bach highlighted positive results of the 40 reforms introduced 127th IOC Session in Monaco in December 2014. The three pillars of reform are sustainability, credibility and youth.

Laura Chinchilla, IOC member in Costa Rica, congratulated Bach on achievements of his first eight years in office.

"It not only transformed the Olympic Movement, but also provided a lot of visibility to this organization and allowed us to navigate our way through this crisis," Chinchilla said.

"This organization has been strengthened to go through these turbulent times in order to meet the challenges of the future."

Lindberg, IOC member in Sweden, said she was "doubtful" when some of the reforms were introduced in December 2014, but added that she thinks "it’s amazing what has happened in short time."

Bach will introduce the next phase -- Olympic Agenda 2020 + five – Friday on the final day of the three-day virtual session.

Business on Thursday’s agenda includes formal approval of holding the 2025 IOC Session in Athens as a replacement for this week’s cancellation. Other items include progress reports from upcoming Games organizers.

Reported by Ed Hula and Brian Pinelli in Italy.

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