German national Thomas Bach has been selected as the next head of the Swiss-based International Olympic Committee (IOC). He will succeed Jacques Rogge, who had served in the role since 2001.
The 59-year-old Bach was elected to the post Tuesday in Buenos Aires at the 125th IOC session. The former Olympic fencing champion beat out four other contenders in the second round of voting: Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, Sergueï Bubka of the Ukraine, Ng Ser Miang of Singapore and Denis Oswald of Switzerland.
“You have given me a sign of your confidence in me,” Bach told the gathered delegates following his election, in seven languages. "It is a big responsibility but I will take up this task by following my credo: 'Unity and Diversity’".
Having served on the IOC’s Executive Board since 1996, also as its vice president, Bach is the ninth president of the organisation – and the eighth from Europe – since its founding in 1894.
Though many Swiss hoped for Oswald’s election to the presidency, the 66-year-old lawyer and professor from Neuchatel was considered an outside candidate. A member of the IOC executive board, Oswald, a former rowing champion, promoted sport values and transparency, admitting he was not a lobbyist or a man behind the scenes.
Prior to the election, Oswald had publicly denounced Bach for opportunism, accusing him of being "involved in commercial business and advantageously using his position (in the IOC) to enter into contracts with companies he represents."
Following Bach's election, Oswald said that "the choice is not a surprise. I have known Thomas for a long time and I see no reason why we cannot work well together in the future."
Bach is a lawyer who had previously worked for the Siemens Corporation. His candidacy for the IOC presidency was especially supported in the Arab world, with the official endorsement of Kuwaiti Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad, the former head of OPEC and the current president of the Association of National Olympic Committees.
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