Peru pulls out of hosting Marius Vizer's World Combat Games
LONDON (AP) The Olympic backlash against Marius Vizer widened, as Peruvian organizers pulled out of hosting one of his showcase multi-sports events and basketball became the latest federation to suspend ties with his umbrella body.
The Peruvian Olympic Committee notified Vizer it was withdrawing as host of the 2017 World Combat Games following his recent attacks on the IOC and President Thomas Bach, according to a letter obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.
The games are owned and overseen by Vizer's SportAccord, which represents Olympic and non-Olympic federations. The 10-day event had been scheduled to be held in Lima and feature 16 combat and martial sports.
The decision follows the withdrawal of several Olympic sports from the combat games, including boxing, wrestling, taekwondo and weightlifting. They broke or suspended ties with SportAccord after Vizer blasted Bach and the International Olympic Committee in a speech in Sochi, Russia, last month.
In his letter to Vizer, Peruvian Olympic chief Jose Quinones Gonzalez said sponsors have also withdrawn their support for the combat games. He also noted that Peru sided with the IOC in the conflict with Vizer and SportAccord.
''The Peruvian Olympic Committee is an integral part of the Olympic Movement,'' Gonzalez wrote. ''Therefore it supports the International Olympic Committee and the reforms of Agenda 2020, which have been widely consulted and agreed with all members.''
''For these reasons,'' he added, ''we are sure to have your comprehension and gentle understanding of the current situation that much to our regret makes infeasible the realization of the World Combat Games in our country.''
The letter did not mention another vital element: Lima was chosen in December to host the IOC meeting in 2017 where the host city of the 2024 Olympics will be selected.
Vizer, who also heads the international judo federation, has been left increasingly isolated since sharply criticizing the IOC and Bach in his opening speech at the SportAccord convention in Sochi. Among other things, Vizer called the IOC system ''expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent'' and said Bach's ''Olympic Agenda 2020'' reform program was of little use to the federations.
International basketball federation FIBA has suspended its membership in SportAccord, spokesman Patrick Koller told the AP on Sunday, becoming the 21st Olympic sport to walk away so far from Vizer's organization.
Peru's withdrawal as host of the combat games came less than two weeks after Vizer issued a statement saying the event would go ahead despite the withdrawal of several sports. He said the games would generate more than $20 million in revenues for participating federations.
Boxing, taekwondo, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing and judo were the six Olympic sports scheduled to be on the combat games program. Among the non-Olympic sports on the program were karate, sumo, kickboxing, aikido and ju-jitsu.
Previous World Combat Games were held in Beijing in 2010 and St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2013.
Vizer's plans to launch the inaugural World Beach Games in 2017 also now look in danger of being thwarted.
Vizer sent Bach a letter last week proposing a meeting to clear the air. On Thursday, he sent Bach a 20-point ''reform agenda'' that, among other things, calls for the introduction of prize money in the Olympics.
Franceso Ritti Bitti, head of the association of summer Olympic sports, told Vizer in a sharply-worded letter Friday to stop speaking on behalf of the federations, saying he does not represent their views and has shown a ''lack of understanding'' of the Olympic movement.
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