Marius Vizer has called for "open and honest" discussions with ASOIF and the IOC ©SportAccord

SportAccord President Marius Vizer has today called for a meeting to be held with both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), claiming there is a need for "open and honest discussions for the benefit of sport".

In a letter in response to a similar correspondence by ASOIF head Francesco Ricci Bitti yesterday, and with IOC President Thomas Bach and ASOIF members copied in, Vizer tells the Italian how he is "ready to hold a meeting with you, the IOC, or anyone who would like to participate".

He recommends next week in Lausanne or in Paris between June 5 and 7.

The letter coincided with hockey becoming the 11th sport to suspend its membership.

International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief executive Kelly Fairweather told insidethegames the decision had been made pending ratification by the FIH Board in early July.

The sport joins athletics, shooting, archery, canoeing, boxing, taekwondo, wrestling, bobsleigh, triathlon and weightlifting in making such a move, with six sport all having withdrawn over the last eight days.

This follows the continued fallout from Vizer's criticism of the IOC and Bach at last month's SportAccord General Assembly in Sochi, where he alleged the IOC "lacked transparency", that its Agenda 2020 reform process had brought "hardly any benefit" to sport and that it had unfairly blocked SportAccord in its drive to organise new Commissions and events.

In addition to the 11 withdrawals, every Summer body except for the Vizer-led International Judo Federation has also signed a letter supporting the decision of ASOIF to "disassociate" its affiliation with SportAccord, while both the International Paralympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation have made a similar move.

Vizer, however, has refused to backtrack or apologise, admitting his manner of speaking may have been wrong but that he raised serious issues which need to be addressed. 

Marius Vizer has called for a meeting with both ASOIF and the IOC ©SportAccord
Marius Vizer has called for a meeting with both ASOIF and the IOC in a letter to Francesco Ricci Bitti ©ITG

In a statement today released by SportAccord alongside the letter exclusively obtained by insidethegames, Vizer opts for slightly more restrained language, claiming how "unity is paramount" and that he "does not have a personal agenda".

His broad sentiments however, are unchanged.

"My statement in Sochi on April 20 was meant to launch proper reforms that would result in a better future for sport," he said.

"My intention has been and will always be to safeguard and further the interests of the International Federations.

"My aim is to unite them and support them as they are the elected representatives of the National Federations and moreover, of the athletes.

"Following my statement in Sochi, there has been an increased interest in applications for SportAccord membership from various international sport bodies.

"Today and in the unforeseeable future, SportAccord continues and will continue to provide services to empower the International Federations and to defend their interests."

Vizer claims he hopes to have "positive discussions which will lead to tangible solutions".

He added: "There is a need to move the dialogue and debate to society, which is the contributor and beneficiary of the biggest sporting events, while at the same time the consumer of sporting values and goods, and I am ready to do so."

Francesco Ricci Bitti strongly criticised Marius Vizer at the ASOIF General Assembly in Sochi, just two days after the initial criticisms were launched ©Twitter
Francesco Ricci Bitti strongly criticised Marius Vizer at the ASOIF General Assembly in Sochi, just two days after the initial criticisms were launched ©Twitter

Vizer's proposed date for a meeting would mean it takes place before the IOC Executive Board meeting in Lausanne on June 7, and then the IOC Candidate City Briefing for the 2022 Winter Olympic bidding race on June 9 and 10, set to be one of the first major meetings of the Olympic Movement since the SportAccord Convention.

If the meeting is held in Paris between June 5 and 7, it could clash with the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Executive Council meeting in Lausanne on June 6.

That could prevent ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, the fourth major stakeholder, along with Bach, Vizer and Ricci Bitti , from attending any summit. 

It remains to be seen however if the IOC and ASOIF accept the meeting proposal, as well as the dates suggested.

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