Bach has His Own Answer to Fears that Olympic Writing May be on Virtual Wall – Keir Radnedge

By iSportconnect | June 11, 2013

Kindle is one of those wonders of modern technology which covers a multiple of content. That delights readers on bus, tube and train. Read anything from the House at Pooh Corner to Fifty Shades of Grey. No-one  else is any the wiser (or entertained).

For newspaper readers Kindle offers the minor bonus of a word count at the top of each article.

Hence Saturday’s edition of The Times contained around 22,000 words of sport. Just 63 of them were spared for the thoughts of the favourite to become new president of the International Olympic Committee (Or ‘the most important man in world sport’ as delusional Olympic devotees would have it).

Do not even trying to figure the percentage. Minimal overstates it.

That ratio also sums up precisely what Thomas Bach was saying on Friday in a 75-minute media exchange: The Olympic movement is not relevant enough to the real world (or sports page editors and their readers).

Bach was an Olympic fencing champion. He is now a vice-president of the IOC, president of the German Olympic sports confederation and holds various other roles in business and sport including the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Half his time he spent enunciating the bullet points of the campaign manifesto with which he hopes to outflank the other five candidates for the succession to Jacques Rogge in September.

For Bach the major challenge facing the IOC is trying to make itself  matter.

Its leaders – as again last week in New York – swap self-congratulatory diplomatic pleasantries with the great and the good (and not so good) of the political establishment. Fat lot of good it does.

Sport needs governments and their security services to power up the battle with organized crime which undermines the credibility of competition within the wider moral fabric of society.

Thus far – as football leaders such as Sepp Blatter (FIFA) and Michel Platini (UEFA) have fulminated in recent weeks – such calls have fallen largely on deaf ears. Bach aligns himself with them.

If the IOC, under Bach or whoever else, could convert itself a seriously awkward activist rather than a purveyor of platitudes then the Olympic movement might command the leadership heights it already thinks it does.

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Two challenges confront it. Both answer to the word ‘connection.’

On one hand the Olympic movement does not connect adequately with the national and international federations which enjoy the four-yearly Olympic shop window and cash handouts.

Proof? The sweeping victory obtained by Marius Vizer over Bernard Lapasset in the presidential election to the organization saddled with the incomprehensively silly name of SportAccord (Sounds like a supersonic sporting charter plane).

Lapasset’s manifesto was a highly worthy intellectual appeal to the minds of 90 or so international sports federations. Vizer’s vision was more basic: a world games i.e. a platform to generate more money.

Hence Lapasset never stood a chance.

Similarly with the Olympics. The IOC’s high-handed – not to say dismissively insulting – treatment of sports federations as evidenced in the ‘new sport’ farrago has enhanced dissatisfaction with what it does and how it does it.

Bach’s manifesto seeks to address a need for greater dialogue between the IOC, its own commissions and the myriad autonomous sports bodies.

It also recognizes a connection chasm between ‘Olympism’ and young people. Pierre de Coubertin’s summons to the youth of the world is falling on deaf ears.

Proof? For all the fun and games of London 2012 there is no sign that take-up of domestic sport in the UK has increased (The Coalition’s demolition of the school/sport partnership was fatuously wrong-headed with the Games just around the corner).

Bach posits that the Olympic movement cannot claim any relevance while it is, to most young people, a slice of TV entertainment for just two weeks every four years. It needs to feature in people’s sporting lives day by day, week by week, month by month (The elitism image projected by presidential candidates who do not wish to be paid for the job does not help: another argument for another day).

Use of social media and a revisited concept for an Olympic TV channel are Bach’s weapons of choice for the battle ahead if he should be elected commander-in-chief.

He may be right; he may be wrong. He may win; he may lose.

At least he recognizes the problems and the dangers should the Olympic movement leak credibility.

Proof? Sixty three words out of 22,000 surely say it all.


Keir Radnedge has been covering football worldwide for more than 40 years, writing 33 books, from tournament guides to comprehensive encyclopedias, aimed at all ages.

His journalism career included The Daily Mail for 20 years as well as The Guardian and other national newspapers and magazines in the UK and around the world. He is a former editor, and remains a lead columnist, with World Soccer, generally recognised as the premier English language magazine on global football.

In addition to his writing, Keir has been a regular analyst for BBC radio and television, Sky Sports, Sky News, Aljazeera and CNN.

Keir Radnedge’s Twitter: @KeirRadnedge

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