Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the Association of Summer Olympic Federations (ASOIF), has urged SportAccord counterpart Marius Vizer to refrain from speaking publicly on behalf of the International Federations, claiming they “do not feel represented” by the union he heads
In a sharply-worded letter, seen by insidethegames, the Italian also insisted the Federations “do not agree” with Vizer’s views on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its President Thomas Bach, which he aired 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.
Ricci Bitti was writing in response to a letter sent by Vizer to Bach yesterday, in which he was Cc’d, calling for an open meeting “with the purpose of working together constructively".
Accompanying Vizer’s letter was a 20-point reform agenda, which he had compiled ahead of a proposed meeting with Bach next month.
As well as proposing the introduction of prize money for Olympic athletes, Vizer has also called for 50 per cent ownership of the Olympic TV Channel by all International Federations, as well as “complete transparency regarding consultants, wages and contracts”.
But Ricci Bitti insists that many of the points made by the International Judo Federation (IJF) President have already been addressed within the framework of the IOC’s Agenda 2020.
"The International Federations participated fully in this process, including you as a member of one of the working groups and also at the IOC Summits, at the invitation of the IOC President,” said Ricci Bitti in his letter.
“It seems from subsequent remarks and correspondence that apparently you failed to represent your views and opinions on those occasions.
“The IOC’s various gatherings always offer opportunities to debate proposals and suggestions but I would emphasise to you that unity without agreement is a vacant concept.”
Ricci Bitti, head of the International Tennis Federation, added that Vizer’s agenda confirms the "ambiguity" between his roles as President of the IJF and his wish to represent other Federations as President of SportAccord, and “displays a lack of understanding of the governance and functioning of the Olympic Movement”.
He concluded by reiterating that ASOIF and the Summer Olympic IFs consider the position Vizer took in Sochi “incompatible with their role as major stakeholders in the Olympic Movement”.
Every summer sport body except for the Vizer-led IJF 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.
The International Fencing Federation and the International Cycling Union became the 19th and 20th IFs to suspend their SportAccord membership today.
Their withdrawals follow those of athletics, shooting, archery, canoeing, boxing, hockey, taekwondo, wrestling, bobsleigh, triathlon, weightlifting, rowing, modern pentathlon, volleyball, equestrian, curling, table tennis and rugby.
Bach is set to consult with key stakeholders before deciding whether to accept Vizer’s invitation to hold a summit on the crisis which has caused a mass exodus from SportAccord.
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.
May 2015: International Fencing Federation suspends SportAccord membership
May 2015: David Owen: Vizer spells out his version of Agenda 2020, but is anyone still listening?
May 2015: Introduction of Olympic prize money among radical proposals made by Vizer ahead of proposed meeting with Bach
May 2015: Equestrian, curling and table tennis suspend SportAccord membership
May 2015: Bach to consult key stakeholders before deciding whether to meet Vizer as three more Federations quit SportAccord