Tom Degun ITG2After years of discussing the successor to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge in the shadows, the candidates have started to emerge into the light as the crucial vote for the most powerful position in world sport looms closer.

The vote is due to take place on September 10 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires during a gathering that will also see the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic host city announced and a sport voted onto the programme for those Games (or if it is wrestling, retained).

But if you ask any IOC member in private, electing the ninth President of the Olympic Movement is by far the most important vote they feel they will cast in the Argentinian capital.

The man everyone is discussing as the favourite to succeed Rogge, who was elected at the Session in Moscow in 2001 to succeed Juan Antonio Samaranch, is Germany's Thomas Bach.

One of the worst kept secrets in the Olympic Movement finally came out last week when the Montreal 1976 fencing champion became the first candidate to officially declare that he will stand to replace Rogge at a hastily organised press conference in Frankfurt.

Bach has been talked about as the most likely successor Rogge for several years but the status of early front-runner is not always a good thing in a race such as this and the German no longer appears overwhelming favourite he was just six months ago.
Thomas Bach with RoggeThomas Bach was the first candidate to officially declare that he will stand to replace Jacque Rogge as IOC President

The favourite he probably remains though, largely because the IOC is a Eurocentric organisation with 43 of the current 101 IOC members hailing from the continent and seven of the eight Presidents so far having come from Europe; the exception being American Avery Brundage, who served from 1952 to 1972.

But even if some of the media are already proclaiming him the victor, Bach knows it will be the 100 other IOC members that will be of sole importance to his bid.

"It is very much about convincing the individual members rather than the worldwide public at large," Bach said upon unveiling his candidacy, clearly aware that the majority of those who have installed him a favourite, including several bookmakers, are completely irrelevant.

Next on the list is Singapore's Ng Ser Miang, yesterday became the second candidate to officially declare that he will stand to replace Rogge with a press conference in Paris.

This, though, wasn't any old press conference.

Ng's cleverly constructed gathering took place at Paris-Sorbonne University; the exact location where the founder of the Modern Olympics Baron Pierre de Coubertin held the first ever Olympic Congress in 1894 in a historic gathering that led to the revival of Games in Athens two years later.

Coubertin was the longest serving IOC President, holding the position for 29 years from 1896 to 1925, and in his bid to become the Frenchman's latest successor, Ng unveiled a vision that the founder of the Modern Olympics would be proud of.
Ng Ser Miang ParisNg Ser Miang announced he will stand to become the next IOC President at Paris-Sorbonne University where Baron Pierre de Coubertin held the first ever Olympic Congress in 1894

Ng spoke most prominently on youth, saying: "We must harness the collective power of Olympism for the benefit of the world's youth - and we must refocus our efforts on the education of youth through the values of sport, for they are tomorrow's living Olympic legacies."

Already he is sending out his manifesto to the IOC members and that coupled with the symbolic location of the announcement, shows he was perhaps more prepared than Bach, whose Frankfurt press conference was rather rushed and who is still drafting up the final points of his own manifesto, which won't be made available to the members until next month.

Having been quietly collecting the promise of crucial votes over the last few years, he is certainly one to be watched closely, and one to be feared by his rivals.

Next up comes International Boxing Association (AIBA) President C K Wu, who will declare next week in his native Taiwan that he will enter the race.

Wu has given the decision some thought, with his manifesto already complete, and he will be the longest serving IOC member in the race following his entry into the organisation in 1988 some 25 years ago.
Wu with RoggeC K Wu is considered the “dark-horse” to replace Jacques Rogge as IOC President

Wu's vision contains his particularly strong on his commitment to the cultural and educational aspects of the Olympic Games and he will be hoping that his manifesto will convince the IOC members to get behind him.

He will also look to illustrate the impressive work he has done with boxing since taking over as AIBA President in 2006, particularly for his role in spearheading the successful campaign to get women boxers competing at the Olympic Games.

Female fighters made their Olympic debut at London 2012, in what was widely seen as the best boxing competition in the history of the Games.

His problem could be causing a split Asian vote with Ng, something that would play into the hands of the other candidates, and he remains the "dark-horse" in the race. But right now, that is no bad place to be.

There are just two other that are likely to move before the deadline for declaration of candidacies on June 10.

The first is Puerto Rico's Richard Carrion, the man dubbed the banker of the Olympic Movement due to his role as chair of both the IOC Finance Commission and Audit Commission.

It is Carrion who has spearheaded the hugely lucrative major deals the IOC has done in the last decade and any manifesto of his will no doubt underline that the financial stability of the organisation would be very much secure under his Presidency.

Richard CarrionRichard Carrion is considered the banker of the Olympic Movement due to his role as chair of both the IOC Finance Commission and Audit Commission

Finally we comes to Sergey Bubka, the pole vault legend who won every single major honour in his sport and who still holds the world record.

Bubka has shown himself to be an astute political mover and is best known as vice-president International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), with many previously believing that his primary focus was the top job in that organisation.

However, Bubka claims to have received strong backing to move for the IOC Presidency from a number of senior figures, and at 49-years-old, he will be by far the youngest candidate in the race.

He therefore hopes to demonstrate a real affiliation with youth and to give the Olympic Movement a figurehead who has the physic, looks and style of an elite athlete near his prime.

Sergey Bubka 2Sergey Bubka is set to be the youngest contender in the race to become the ninth IOC President at 49-years-old

What is the most fascinating part of this race is that is nearly impossible to speculate because it will be just 101 IOC members deciding the new President in a secret vote.

In fact, less than that given that some members will not attend the Session in Buenos Aires, some will abstain from voting and the candidates themselves will be ineligible from voting until they are eliminated from the race as it is carried out.

So dubbing anyone "favourite" is a little pointless and the candidates will know that.

Their job is simply to convince their IOC peers that they are the best person to take on the most powerful position in world sport.

Tom Degun is a reporter for insidethegames. To follow him on Twitter click here.