Vizer quits as SportAccord chief amid backlash to IOC attack
LONDON (AP) With no allies left to support him, Marius Vizer resigned as president of the umbrella body for international sports federations on Sunday and delivered a defiant rebuke to the critics who forced him out after his attacks on the IOC.
Vizer quit amid a backlash that led more than 20 sports bodies to cut or suspend ties with SportAccord, which represents Olympic and non-Olympic federations. His departure had seemed inevitable ever since he picked a fight with the International Olympic Committee that he was never going to win.
Vizer went out swinging, issuing a strongly-worded resignation statement that defended his position and the ''courage'' he displayed in challenging the Olympic establishment.
''Everything I proposed is right and I hope to have opened a door that had been closed for a century, and I hope it remains open forever for the benefit of sport and its values,'' he said.
Vizer, who remains as president of the international judo federation, also resigned as member of the IOC coordination commission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. His name had remained on the list of commissions announced earlier Sunday by IOC President Thomas Bach.
''We have been informed of the resignation,'' the IOC said Sunday. ''We will continue our on-going work and consultation with the international federations and other members of the Olympic Movement. The topic will be discussed at the IOC executive board next week.''
Vizer had been left increasingly isolated since blasting the IOC in a speech at the SportAccord convention in Sochi, Russia last month. With Bach looking on, he called the IOC system ''expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not at all transparent'' and said Bach's ''Olympic Agenda 2020'' reform program was of little use to the federations.
Last week, Vizer sent Bach a letter with his own 20-point ''reform agenda,'' which included introduction of prize money in the Olympics and a 50 percent share for the federations in the IOC's new Olympic television channel.
About two dozen federations have withdrawn or suspended their membership in SportAccord in protest, and Peruvian organizers have pulled out of hosting Vizer's World Combat Games in 2017.
Among the bodies that had cut ties with SportAccord were the two associations representing the summer and winter sports in the Olympics. He also lost the support of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, the powerful president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
Some federations had indicated they would consider breaking away from SportAccord and forming their own organization.
Vizer took over as SportAccord chief in 2013, succeeding former cycling federation president Hein Verbruggen. He immediately came into conflict with the IOC, particularly over his plans to launch a United World Championship for all sports federations every four years, a potential rival to the Olympics.
''I did try to collaborate with the IOC in the two years of my mandate, submitting them numerous proposals for collaboration between the two organizations, but these were always rejected without any plausible explanation,'' Vizer said Sunday. ''My door has always been open for collaboration, theirs was always closed.''
Vizer felt snubbed when the IOC executive board decided not to hold a meeting during the Sochi convention. The board had met at all previous SportAccord conferences since the first was held in 2003. Vizer was also frustrated at not becoming an IOC member, despite being president of an Olympic sports federation.
In his statement, Vizer took more swipes at the IOC and his critics.
''Today, the system working behind the doors is dictated by nobility titles or family inherited titles, or by members appointed for life,'' he said.
''Hoping that the IOC system is neither a dynasty, nor a tyranny or an inquisition, I entrust its destiny in the hands of the young generations,'' he added.
Vizer said he dedicated his life to sport ''without pecuniary advantages like others.''
The Romanian-born Austrian said he had risked his life and his family's life when he emigrated from communism in 1988 in order to live in a world that protected freedom of speech.
''In this past month it was proven that in the free world there are, still, higher structures where the supreme value is silence!'' he said.
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