Equestrian has become the 15th sport to suspend its membership with SportAccord ©Getty Images

Equestrian, curling, table tennis and rugby have become the latest Federations to suspend their membership with SportAccord, it has been announced today.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI), World Curling Federation (WCF), International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) and World Rugby have all confirmed that their suspensions will begin with immediate effect, bringing the total to 18. 

Equestrian's membership with SportAccord will be discussed by the FEI Bureau at its in-person meeting on June 9.

Curling said it had made the decision following consultation with its Board.

Table tennis stated it "has decided unanimously to respect the current ongoing process, and to join in solidarity" with the other Federations.

World Rugby claimed the decision of President Bernard Lapasset, who lost out to Marius Vizer in the 2013 SportAccord Presidential race, was "unanimously approved". 

The withdrawals follow those of athletics, shooting, archery, canoeing, boxing, hockey, taekwondo, wrestling, bobsleigh, triathlon, weightlifting, rowing, modern pentathlon and volleyball.

They come in the wake of controversial comments made by Vizer about the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at last month’s SportAccord Convention in Sochi.  

Vizer 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.

Every summer sport body except for the Vizer-led International Judo Federation signed a letter supporting the decision of the Association of Summer Olympic International Sports Federations (ASOIF) to "disassociate" its affiliation with SportAccord, while both the International Paralympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation have made a similar move.

Marius Vizer's comments about the International Olympic Committee at last month's SportAccord Convention have led to a mass exodus from his union
Marius Vizer's comments about the International Olympic Committee at last month's SportAccord Convention have led to a mass exodus from his union ©Getty Images

“SportAccord’s President Marius Vizer has been informed of the FEI Executive Board’s decision,” said FEI President, Ingmar De Vos.

“The FEI, alongside many other International Sports Federations and the Association of Summer Olympic International Sports Federations will seek full clarity regarding SportAccord’s role and mission, including a review of SportAccord’s governance and management.”

The WCF revealed that it had taken the decision partly because Vizer has not been prepared to back down from the comments he made in Sochi and because they did not believe he expressed his opinion in a proper way. 

They are only the second Winter Federation to withdraw following the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.

"The WCF Board is clear that the comments made in no way represent the position of the WCF as a stakeholder of the Olympic Movement," the WCF said in a statement. 

"Additionally, the manner in which the comments were made is contrary to the ‘Spirit of Curling’, something which is central to the rules and ideology of our sport."

Meanwhile, the ITTF said it made its decision "with the hope that the differences between SportAccord and ASOIF, as well as with the IOC, will be resolved in the very near future".

"The ITTF wishes the forthcoming meetings and discussions between all parties a lot of success, and to achieve the desired goal of a united international sports structure to the benefit of all international sports federations," the ITTF said in a statement. 

World Rugby said in a statement that is has suspended its membership "until there is clarity regarding SportAccord’s function and role within the global sporting community and also a detailed review of SportAccord’s governance and management".

IOC President Thomas Bach is set to consult with key stakeholders before deciding whether to accept an invitation made by Vizer on Tuesday (May 19) to hold a summit on the crisis which has caused a mass exodus from SportAccord. 

Both Bach and Francesco Ricci Bitti, head of ASOIF, have been invited to stage talks for "positive discussions which will lead to tangible solutions".

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

If the proposal is accepted, the meeting will take 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, which is set to be one of the first major gatherings of the Olympic Movement since the SportAccord Convention.

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