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Kasper retracts International ski chief apologises for ‘dictator’ comments

Gian-Franco Kasper

The Swiss head of the International Ski Federation now regrets comments he made in a newspaper interview.

(Keystone)

The head of the International Ski Federation (FIS), Gian-Franco Kasper, has apologised for saying he prefers dictator-led countries to run large ski events. He said it was easier to deal with dictators than environmentalists.

The 75-year-old Swiss citizen gave his controversial views in an interviewexternal link with the Tages Anzeiger newspaper. Kasper said his comments “were not meant to be taken literally but this was not clear in the final story.” He says he is sorry for the “misunderstanding” that has “taken attention away from our athletes” at the skiing world championships in Swedenexternal link.

During the interview Kasper brushed aside criticism of forests being felled in South Koreaexternal link to stage the 2018 Winter Olympics. He complained that environmental concerns are taking precedence over allowing people access to ski areas.

He then went on the say that such arguments hold little sway in dictatorial countries, which makes it easier to hold large scale events in such places. “From the business side, I say: I just want to go to dictatorships, I do not want to argue with environmentalists.”

Kasper, who has been president of the Swiss-based FIS since 1998, also lamented the fact that Swiss voters last year rejected a plan to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. “It would be impossible to win a vote to host such a large event practically anywhere in Europe,” he said.

swissinfo.ch/mga

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