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Ogi left in the cold as Olympic Committee enters new era

The rejection of Adolf Ogi (right) has been seen as a rebuff against the outgoing IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch (left)

(Keystone)

A former Swiss president, Adolf Ogi, has become the first candidate proposed by the executive committee ever to be turned down for membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). His bid was rejected as the IOC chose Belgium's Jacques Rogge to succeed President Juan Antonio Samaranch.

On Monday, Ogi failed in his bid to become Switzerland's sixth representative at the IOC.

In what is being widely interpreted as a rebuff to the outgoing IOC president, Samaranch, committee members voted by 59 votes to 46 against Ogi's candidacy.

Samaranch had earlier pleaded with members to accept the nomination before the vote took place during a special session of the IOC in Moscow.

Ogi told Swiss radio he was "very disappointed" by the IOC's decision. "I thought I fulfilled the criteria to be a member," said the former Swiss president, who was also sports minister.

Before stepping down, Samaranch told committee members that Ogi "would help bond relations between the IOC and the United Nations".

Until his resignation from politics last December, Ogi was minister for sport, and earlier this year was appointed the United Nations' special envoy for peace and sport by secretary general, Kofi Annan.

The 59-year-old was the only candidate of the seven nominated who failed to be elected. Among those chosen to join the Olympic family was Samaranch's son, also called Juan Antonio.

Ogi's bid is thought to have failed because Switzerland is already over-represented in the IOC. Five of the Committee's 112 members are Swiss, which means it has more members than any other country bar Italy.

Responding to the decision, the Swiss government said it thought Ogi would have been an ideal candidate, given his impressive sporting credentials.

A close Swiss ally of Ogi said the decision showed that prestige was more important than experience when it came to choosing IOC members.

Ogi himself said that Committee members "did not take my UN mandate into account".

The Swiss members of the IOC include several heavyweights from the world of sport: Sepp Blatter, president of football's world governing body, FIFA; René Fasel, president of the International Hockey Federation, Gian-Franco Kasper, president of the International Ski Federation, Denis Oswald, president of the International Rowing Federation, and Marc Hodler, who is an IOC life member.

Correspondents say Ogi's rejection suggests that prospective Swiss candidates will stand little chance of being elected to the IOC until one of the serving members steps down.

swissinfo with agencies


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