Bach waits in the wings as Rogge reign nears end

Buenos Aires: The six candidates bidding to be elected to the most powerful position in sport as president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) girded their loins for one final day of campaigning on Monday in Buenos Aires.

Unassuming Belgian Jacques Rogge will step down on Tuesday after a 12 year reign in what has been a largely successful term having notably been credited with restoring the image of the organisation.

It is a considerable feat as Rogge had faced a tough task after the IOC had been badly tarnished in the final years of Juan Antonio Samaranch`s stewardship over the bribes for votes scandal concerning the successful Salt Lake City bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The sextet of candidates -- all men and none from Africa -- will take over an IOC that Rogge revealed on Sunday is in great financial health and, with over $900 million in reserve, could afford the cancellation of an Olympic Games.

However, Rogge`s successor will have been made painfully aware on Sunday that his main headache will be the preparations for the Rio Games in 2016.

Monday`s fare for the assembled IOC members is far lower key than the two previous frenetic days of elections for the host city for 2020 -- won by Tokyo -- and a sport for the 2020 and 2024 Games which saw wrestling restored to the programme after a remarkable seven month fightback.

Monday will see reports by the heads of various commissions -- the essence of the smooth running of the IOC.

The favourite for replacing Rogge remains Thomas Bach, who would become the first Olympic gold medalist to assume the role having won the team foil fencing title in 1976.

The 59-year-old German lawyer has made the IOC and its future his life since becoming interested in sports politics when he was irritated at the dismissive manner in which German politicians treated him in his role as the West German athletes` spokesman in the debate over the boycott of the 1980 Olympics.

"In 1980 I was the spokesman for all the West German athletes and fought really hard for us to be able to compete in Moscow," he told AFP in August.

"This for me was the turning point from being an athlete to entering sports politics. I accepted to become a member of the German NOC because I wanted to avoid the situation where a future generation of athletes would suffer in the same way -- every athlete`s ambition is to compete in an Olympics and for some 1980 was their only chance.

"We were more or less dismissed by them and it was the same with regard to politics and society in general. I had discussions about the boycott with the then chancellor (Helmut Schmidt) and president (Karl Carstens) and I always had the feeling they had no interest in sport."

The only clouds hanging over the smart and assured performer has come from within Germany.

An academic report released in early August on organised doping in the former West Germany in the 1970`s posed the question of whether he was aware of what was going on, which he says he was not, and latterly a documentary on German TV that was far from complimentary but did little damage.

AFP

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