Sports leaders postpone merger with convention organizers

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) International sports federations have postponed plans to merge their umbrella body with the organization that runs a major annual industry convention.

The SportAccord Council, which represents Olympic and non-Olympic sports, decided to put off its planned merger this year with SportAccord Convention.

The council said it still intends to merge with the convention in the future ''but firstly the structure and governance of SportAccord remains the current focus.''

''We need to ensure the effective collaboration among the federations continues, and the decision to keep two separate entities is the right solution for the time being,'' Gian-Franco Kasper, the interim chairman of the council, said in a statement Tuesday.

The SportAccord umbrella body was thrown into turmoil last year after its leader, Marius Vizer, launched a scathing attack on the International Olympic Committee and its president, Thomas Bach, at the convention in Sochi, Russia.

The IOC and dozens of federations withdrew or suspended their membership in SportAccord in protest over Vizer's speech.

Vizer later resigned. Kasper, an IOC member who heads the international ski federation, was named interim leader.

Former International Tennis Federation President Francesco Ricci Bitti took over as president of the convention.

This year's convention will be held from April 17-22 in Lausanne.