|Close ties to Kuwaiti sheikh haunt new Olympic chief Bach
Newly-elected International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach coolly dismissed suggestions he owed his election victory Tuesday to Kuwaiti IOC member Sheikh Ahmed al-Sabah.
The 59-year-old German had been accused by Swiss rival Denis Oswald on Monday, who spoke of his close business ties with Kuwait. Bach trounced his five rivals to win in the second round with 49 votes, AFP reports.
Indeed Bach's close friendship with the sheikh was lampooned in an Argentinian newspaper last week.
A cartoon on the front page showed a grinning sheikh with his thumb up in the air wearing a T-shirt with Bach's image on it.
Bach, though, said during his campaign he had taken particular care not to make promises to any of the IOC members so he didn't start his eight-year spell owing anyone anything.
“At my presentation to the IOC members in July in Lausanne I was the candidate who made it very clear to them that I do not make any promises with regard to issues or personal requests,'' said Bach in reply to a question regarding his ties with the Sheikh.
“In all my conversations there was not a single promise being made. This allows me when I go to Lausanne next Tuesday to start with a white sheet of paper so there is no form of commitment to anybody.''
He admitted he had not known whether that tactic would work or not.
“I was not very sure how and whether it would work because you know in this campaign there were many promises [by other candidates] around issues.
“I am more happy about that today as members remembered this pledge. I said it would not be fair to them to make any promises without being transparent. Obviously the members appreciated this and therefore I am very happy.''
Bach, as president of the German NOC, is a member of the Association of National Olympic Committees, of which the sheikh is president.
But he insisted he was not beholden to the Kuwaiti, arguing, “...if my own constituents [those voting IOC members belonging to ANOC] are not supporting me then if you don't have their support you have made a mistake.’’
He added: “Secondly you cannot win the elections for IOC President with the support of one person alone and you know the IOC members -- they are very strong individual personalities.
“This is what I tried to do with them, by addressing them personally and convince them of my ideas. There are 95 individual members [in Buenos Aires for the vote] and they all want to speak with a candidate and to have contact with the candidates.''