IOC President, Thomas Bach, has announced that he will seek to be re-elected next year. The 66-year-old has held the position since 2013 after being elected for an 8-year term. The presidential election is due to take place in Athens next June.
The announcement came during the IOC’s 136th Session which they held today. During the conference it was also announced that the schedule for aquatics at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics next year will remain identical to the original plan.
If his bid for re-election is successful, Bach will hold the position for another 4 years. In the past the term of IOC presidency was unlimited, but was fixed to 8 years in 1925 when Henri De Baillet-Latour took up the post. It is now only renewable once.
"If you, the IOC Members want, I am ready to run for a second term as IOC President and to continue to serve you and this Olympic Movement, which we all love so much for another four years." – IOC President Thomas Bach.
— Christian Klaue (@ChKlaue) July 17, 2020
A lawyer by profession, Bach is a former foil fencer and won a team gold medal and the 1976 Montreal Olympics while competing for West Germany. He also has three World Championship medals – silver, gold and bronze – which he collected at the 1973, 1977 and 1979 editions.
During his current tenure as IOC president, Bach has been a part of some significant challenges. He oversaw the Rio 2016 Games, which has been described as one of the most troublesome due to the city’s struggles with different components of hosting the games.
Rio de Janeiro was the first South American city to host an Olympic Games and faced a number of challenges such as transport and filling stadiums with spectators. Problems continued after the Games had begun, with the diving pool memorably turning green on day 3 of the competition.
He has also been at the helm of the IOC throughout the Russian doping scandal which, as it later emerged in 2016, was a state-run doping programme constructed by Russia between 2011 and 2015.
Bach and the IOC were widely criticised for their handling of the scandal as despite strong recommendation from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Russia were not banned from taking part in the Rio Games. The United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said at the time that the IOC’s decision not to ban Russian athletes was a “significant blow to the rights of clean athletes.”
At the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, Russia was banned from flying their flag and instead their athletes competed as ‘Olympic Athletes of Russia’. The 168 athletes were all cleared by an anti-doping review panel, but were banned from bearing their country’s flag or uniform.
Thomas Bach is now in charge of the preparation for the rescheduled 2020 Olympic Games next year. He emphasised today that “We can, together with the Organising Committee, turn these postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 into an unprecedented celebration of unity and solidarity of humankind, making them a symbol of resilience and hope”.