Marius Vizer elected head of umbrella sports body
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) - In a potential direct challenge to the IOC and the Olympics, judo federation chief Marius Vizer plans to organize a global world championships every four years for all international sports federations.
Vizer was elected Friday as president of SportAccord, an umbrella body representing Olympic and non-Olympic sports federations. He defeated International Rugby Board chairman Bernard Lapasset of France 52-37 on the final day of the SportAccord convention in St. Petersburg.
The 56-year-old Vizer, a Romanian-born Hungarian, succeeds former cycling federation president Hein Verbruggen, who led the umbrella organization since 2004.
Vizer won on a platform of transforming SportAccord into a more powerful and lucrative body. The centerpiece of his project is to stage a "United World Championships'' every four years for Olympic and non-Olympic sports.
Vizer said he plans to organize the first event in 2017 and hopes all 91 member federations take part.
"The event will be organized in a country and events divided in different cities and different regions according to the infrastructure and different facilities necessary to every sport,'' Vizer said. "And, of course, in a period convenient for all international federations.''
The location of the first championships hasn't been determined.
"I have the intention to establish offices worldwide and one of the countries which is part of this program can also be the first organizer,'' Vizer said.
Vizer's event would seem to pose a threat to the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games. It could also conflict with existing world championships in high-profile sports such as track and field and swimming.
But Vizer, who has been president of the International Judo Federation since 2007, sought to downplay any rivalry with the IOC.
"I don't think they have to be worried because it's a different event with a different background, a different strategy,'' he said. "And of course we will do everything in partnership, agreement with all international sports organizations.''
Vizer said he has not discussed the plans with IOC President Jacques Rogge, who steps down in September after 12 years in the job.
Rogge told reporters that Vizer's proposal goes against the position of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, an umbrella body of the 28 sports in the games.
"ASOIF not later than 10 days ago came up with a declaration that the international program is already too congested and that there are too many events,'' Rogge said. "So this is something that has to be discussed not only between the IOC and SportAccord, but also within SportAccord itself.''
Rogge said he expects Vizer to meet with his successor after September's election to discuss collaboration.
Vizer described his proposed championships as a "commercial'' venture to support national federations and dispelled the notion it would compete with the Olympics.
"The Olympics are something very different and special,'' he said. "They are the highest value which we have today in sport.''
Vizer said he has been in touch with sponsors and broadcasters about the project but declined to give details.