June 25, 2015

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci Bitti is taking over as head of the SportAccord Convention as the conference looks for a host next year to replace Sochi.

Ricci Bitti was elected on Thursday as the new president of the annual sports industry conference that draws hundreds of delegates from around the world.

The convention is organized by umbrella body SportAccord, which represents Olympic and non-Olympic federations.

Marius Vizer resigned recently as head of both SportAccord and SportAccord Convention after facing a revolt from federations over his attacks on the International Olympic Committee.

Ricci Bitti, who was one of Vizer's most outspoken critics, will step down as ITF president in September after four terms in office, but the 73-year-old Italian will continue as head of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.

''The SportAccord Convention has become a major event in the international sporting calendar, not only for the sports movement but also for the industry,'' Ricci Bitti said in a statement. ''I have always been one of its greatest supporters.''

Swiss IOC member and International Skiing Federation president Gian-Franco Kasper was chosen last week as interim president of SportAccord, pending elections this year.

This month, the IOC suspended recognition and funding for SportAccord, and called on the federations to revamp the organization.

Vizer was forced to step down after more than a dozen federations suspended or cut ties with SportAccord following his stinging criticism of the IOC and President Thomas Bach at the convention in Sochi in April.

Under Vizer, SportAccord planned to return to Sochi next year, and hold the next four conventions in Russia.

But the Sochi plans were scrapped, and SportAccord said on Thursday it was seeking bids to host the convention next April ''and beyond.''

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