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Thomas Bach to Marius Vizer: I’ll get back to you later

May 20, 2015

LONDON (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach is keeping Marius Vizer waiting on his invitation for a clear-the-air meeting.

Vizer, who heads the umbrella body SportAccord, wrote to Bach on Tuesday asking for a meeting to mend fences following his blistering attack on the International Olympic Committee in Sochi last month.

At least a dozen sports federations have suspended or cut ties with SportAccord in protest over Vizer’s speech, with rowing and modern pentathlon the latest to withdraw on Wednesday.

Bach replied to Vizer’s invitation on Wednesday, saying he would need to discuss the matter with his executive board and the “representatives of our main stakeholders, in this case, the international federations.”

A copy of Bach’s letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

“As the president, I have the obligation to express the opinion of my organization rather than just a personal one,” Bach said. “Therefore, I will come back to you after the next IOC executive board meeting.”

The next board meeting is scheduled for June 7-8 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In Vizer’s letter, also obtained by the AP, he said a meeting with Bach would be “for the benefit and the unity of the world sports movement” and also “for the clarification of some essential aspects in the activity and development of the sport family.”

Vizer asked Bach for a place and dates that would be convenient. Separately, Vizer also requested a meeting with the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, which represents the 28 sports in the games.

Bach’s non-committal reply indicated he would not be dictated by Vizer’s wishes and preferred to deal with him from a position of strength with the backing of his board and the federations.

SportAccord represents a grouping of about 100 Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations. It also organizes some multi-sports events, such as the World Combat Games.

Vizer, who also heads the international judo federation, has been increasingly isolated since delivering his strongly-worded speech at the opening of the SportAccord convention in Sochi a month ago.

Vizer called the IOC system “expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent,” said Bach’s reform program was of little use to the federations and accused him of blocking SportAccord’s plans for more multi-sports competitions.

ASOIF and at least 12 individual federations have suspended ties with SportAccord. Vizer has accused the IOC of pressuring them to leave.

The rowing and modern pentathlon federations announced their withdrawal Wednesday. They follow weightlifting, triathlon, wrestling, taekwondo, boxing, athletics, archery, canoeing, shooting and bobsled in suspending or cutting relations with SportAccord. Others are expected to follow suit.

Boxing and taekwondo have also pulled out of the 2017 World Combat Games in Lima, Peru.

The IOC has had a tense relationship with Vizer ever since he was elected in 2013 to succeed former cycling federation president Hein Verbruggen as head of SportAccord.

Vizer ruffled Olympic leaders by proposing to organize a “United World Championships” for all federations every four years, a potential direct challenge to the IOC and the Olympics. The plan has never materialized.


Follow Stephen Wilson on Twitter: http://twitter.com/stevewilsonap