The so-called Olympic movement has showed a surprisingly strong interest in the first part of the report on the presidential race in the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The acronym ABB seems to have electrified people. It stands for “Anyone But Bach” – referring to the clear favorite among the six contenders for the IOC Presidency, the German Thomas Bach.
On April 21st this year, most senior IOC officials met in Tianjin, northern part of China. On this day, the “Juan Antonio Samaranch Memorial Museum” was opened, planned by the architect Ching-Kuo Wuo (Taiwan), another one of the six presidential candidates. At this occasion a conspiratorial-sounding abbreviation was used for the first time. ABT: “Anything but Thomas”. Sometime in May it changed to ABB.
Of course, the five challengers of Thomas Bach discreetly promote the ABB story among their peers. But one of them, Ser Miang Ng from Singapore, currently thought to be number two or three in the presidential race, now argues more offensively with a historical fact:
There have been eight presidents in IOC history. Seven from Europe, one from the U.S. – but none from the biggest and most populous continent. None from Asia.
So perhaps the ABB will be replaced by an ABE: From anywhere but Europe?
Personal relations count
Such momentum is not yet visible. The election of the president of the IOC is a personal choice in the truest sense of the word. Continental blocks do not seem to exist. It is quite different from for example the Olympic bid decisions, where continental considerations always play a role. But the presidential race will be decided much more by personal relationships, by sympathy or antipathy, by individual deals.
Programmatic statements are regarded as secondary. So it is almost logical that the six candidates are not allowed to publish and promote their manifestos, to advertise or to contest each other in public discussions. What is self-evident in democracies – such as TV election duels between politicians – is prohibited in the IOC.
Thus, the first presentations of the candidates were held on 4th July at the Palais de Beaulieu in Lausanne, at the Extraordinary IOC Session, of course behind closed doors.
After I had published the six manifestos worldwide exclusively on my blog the night before, the aides of some candidates told me: Thanks a lot. We would like to share our programmes with the public. But the ethic regulations do not allow us to do so.