Cookson apologises to Vizer for suggesting judo should be switched to Winter Olympics
Wednesday, 09 April 2014
April 9 - International Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson has apologised for suggesting sports other than his own should be switched from the Summer to the Winter Olympics, although he defended raising the idea in principal.
Earlier this month Cookson, who replaced Pat McQuaid as UCI President last September after a controversial electoral contest, suggested judo and badminton could be among a number of sports moved to the Winter Olympics in order to accommodate more events at the Summer Games.
This led to a strong rebuke from International Judo Federation (IJF) and SportAccord President Marius Vizer who said, although he appreciated Cookson's British humour, he should "avoid press communications at times when he actually does not have any message to transmit".
Speaking here during an address at the SportAccord International Convention, where he delivered a keynote address, Cookson tried to bring a swift end to the dispute with the increasingly influential Vizer.
"Sorry for offence I have made for speaking about sports other than my own," he told the audience.
"I didn't want to upset anyone and maybe I shouldn't have mentioned a sport by name, but lets just have a discussion," he added.
"As a new boy I can make some mistakes and say some slightly foolish things.
"Tactics and diplomacy are important skills but it also is sometimes important to throw a pebble into the pool and see what issues come out.
Cookson joked that when meeting Vizer earlier in the day, he was a bit reluctant to shake his hand as he thought he might throw him onto the mat.
Cookson, though, defended the importance of raising the idea of switching sports, as he related it to the broader Agenda 2020 reforming agenda currently ongoing in the Olympic Movement.
"These discussions fit well with Agenda 2020 and I do believe we have to be creative looking at sports on the Summer and Winter programme," he said.
"Now more than ever we need fresh thinking and in cycling we are facing our challenges head-on and embracing rather than fighting change.
"We cannot afford stagnation and we must make changes to ensure sport adapts to the modern world.
"Progress is being made but I am not being complacent about the difficulties we face.
"I hope friends and colleagues from other sports can learn from the challenges we are facing."
Although on this occasion Cookson veered clear of speaking about sports other than cycling, he reiterated how track cycling has become an indoor sport most popular in winter and also described how cyclo-cross would make a viable addition to the Winter Olympics programme.
This is because it is a "first across the line" discipline that would be simple and affordable to introduce, and is thrilling to watch and accessible for both men and women.
April 2014: Vizer appreciates Cookson's "humour" but does not see funny side of proposal to move judo to Winter Olympics