By Duncan Mackay

Thomas Bach ChinaMay 9 - Germany's Thomas Bach today officially announced that he will be a candidate to replace Jacques Rogge as President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The announcement was made at a press conference in Frankfurt. 

Bach, 59, won a team foil gold in 1976 Olympic fencing event.

The lawyer and IOC vice-president is also head of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).

Bach said he will formally submit his candidacy next month under the motto "Unity in Diversity", which he claimed described both the universality and the solidarity of the Olympic Movement, when he also plans to release more details of his manifesto.

"I am humbly aware of the magnitude of the task of an IOC President," said Bach, who had officially informed Rogge yesterday that he would be standing. 

"Three months prior to the IOC Session, the time will come to officially stand for the post.

"I will then offer the IOC members for further dialogue my ideas on how the Olympic Movement can master the challenges of the future."

Thomas Bach with Jacques RoggeThomas Bach (right) will be hoping to succeed Jacques Rogge (left) to become the first-ever German President of the IOC

Bach, formerly Adidas' director of promotion, joined the IOC in 1991 and has held several senior posts.

He is currently chairman of the IOC Juridical Commission, leading most of the investigations into doping cases.

"At the same time, in honorary positions and throughout my professional career, I have gained a wealth of management and leadership experience in national and international sports, economics, politics, law and society," said Bach.

"This is why I feel well prepared.

"I am honoured that over recent months many colleagues in the IOC and the German sports community have supported me in this view."

Other candidates expected to announce in the coming weeks are another IOC vice-president Ng Ser Miang of Singapore, Richard Carrion, head of the IOC's Finance and Audit Commissions from Puerto Rico, C K Wu, the President of the International Boxing Association from Taiwan, and Sergey Bubka, the vice-president of the International Association of Athletics Federations from Ukraine.

Seven of the eight IOC Presidents so far have been European.

Rogge who succeeded Juan Antonio Samaranch in 2001, is due to step down as IOC President on September 10.

The deadline for declaration of candidacies is not due until June 10, three months before the vote at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires.

Bach's announcement had been long expected but the sudden timing of it took many by surprise.

"I didn't want to keep other members in the dark any longer," Bach said.

"I think it is the right time.

"For me this is not a race against fellow IOC members.

"My idea of this campaign is to convince the IOC members to trust me and to vote in my favour and I will concentrate on this and not having arguments against anybody else.

"My arguments will be in favour of my ideas and my track record in sports and the IOC and therefore I am really looking forward to a fair competition in the next four months."

Bach will be the first German to put themselves forward most important job in world sport since Willi Daume stood to replace Ireland's Lord Killanin at the IOC Session in Moscow in 1980.

Willie DaumeWillie Daume was the last German candidate to stand for IOC President, in 1980, when he was beaten by Juan Antonio Samaranch

Daume, the former head of the West German Olympic Committee, finished last of the four candidates with five votes as Juan Antonio Samaranch was elected President, a post he held for 21 years until he was replaced by Rogge.

"It is the opinion of the DOSB and its member organisations that Thomas Bach is an outstanding candidate for the highest office in world sports," said Walther Tröger, an honorary member of the IOC.

"He has proven his leadership skills for many years in various offices in international and national sports.

"We in Germany as well as many in international sports appreciate Thomas Bach as a real team leader who is always interested in dialogue and exchange.

"He is a man of great merit to sports."

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