Coe hails Bach appointment

Sebastian Coe (AP)
Sebastian Coe (AP)

Buenos Aires - Thomas Bach is "the perfect choice" to head the Olympic movement as new president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe said.

Bach, a former Olympic fencing champion, won a clear victory over five rivals in the vote in Buenos Aires on Tuesday.

Lord Coe, who was in Buenos Aires for the IOC Session, said: "Thomas Bach's election is a perfect choice for the movement, for athletes and for sport."

German and international media largely welcomed Bach's victory but said he would be facing immediate challenges including problems affecting the winter Games in Sochi next year and the 2016 summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Coe, who led the London 2012 Games organizing committee, said: "I have known Thomas since 1981 when he and I were the first athletes to address an Olympic Congress on behalf of competitors.

"He will be standing on the shoulders of past Olympic giants and following in the footsteps of another president (Jacques Rogge) with athletes at heart.

"The IOC and the wider movement can be confident that in moving forward they have a new IOC president who sees the Games through the eyes of competitors."

The election of Germany's Bach as the ninth IOC president took just two rounds of voting in a secret ballot among IOC members on the final day of the 125th Session.

Bach, 59, beat Puerto Rico's Richard Carrion by a comfortable 49-29 margin. Singapore's Ng Ser Miang was a distant third with six votes, while Switzerland's Denis Oswald got five and Ukraine's Sergey Bubka obtained four. CK Wu of Taiwan went out in the first round.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung commented: "The IOC has a new president. But it doesn't as a result have a new programme, no fresh vision. So far it only has this curious slogan of "unity through diversity" with which Thomas Bach stood. What he wants, what he plans is something he has never publicly precisely stated."

Sports daily L'Equipe said Bach was "discreet, clever and possesses a good sense anticipation - and the methods of the former fencer have paid off."

"Will he manage to introduce reforms and give new impetus while at the same time retaining the movement's unity? Some people doubt that. In the IOC everyone hopes so," it wrote.

France's Le Figaro said: "Bach won't have much time to enjoy his success. The IOC is doing well financially but with the Olympic Games of Sochi and Rio de Janeiro there are problems which continue to cause concern."

Austria's Kurier commented: "Several challenges immediately face the new strongman at the head of the Olympic movement.

"The winter Games in Sochi in almost five months are already badly strained by threatened terrorist attacks, human rights violations and the heavily criticised anti-homosexual law in Russia. Substantial construction delays in Rio de Janeiro are causing the IOC concern ahead of the 2016 Games."

Bach's position as IOC president means Germany will have to choose a new national Olympic chief and has also raised questions over a possible Munich bid to stage the 2022 winter Games

Germany's Bild newspaper said the vote for Bach was "Germany's most important Olympic victory".

"What does the first election of a German IOC president do for Germany? The 2022 winter Games in Munich?" it wrote.

"Not automatically. To have a country presenting the IOC president and also organizing Olympics was something that used to be ruled out. This unwritten rule has now been softened."

Germany's athletics federation president, Clemens Prokop, said the vote for Bach could work negatively for any Munich bid.

"The IOC delegates will probably take care in any future decision-making that a country does not become too dominant if the leading position has already gone to Germany," he said.

The Nolympia alliance, which was formed to oppose Munich's candidacy for the 2018 winter Games, said Bach would no longer be able to promote a Munich bid.

"The chances for Munich have sunk," spokesman Axel Doering told dpa.

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