David Owen ©ITG

I have already grown quite fond of the new Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) logo.

Colourful, jaunty and inoffensive, it is perfectly in keeping with the body’s latest manifestation as a service provider firmly under the thumb of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

What a contrast with the organisation’s branding in the mid-1970s , when it saw itself as a vehicle for standing up for members’ interests, whether against the IOC or anyone else.

This sense of purpose is reflected clearly in a preponderance of arrows, which I have to say reminds me a little of the old Dad’s Army opening titles.

Thomi Keller, GAISF’s boss at this time, might conceivably have made it to IOC President had things worked out differently.

I am starting to wonder whether current GAISF President Patrick Baumann might one day succeed where Keller failed.

The 50-year-old Swiss national, secretary general of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) since 2003, has been thrust into multi-sports prominence in recent times, not just via GAISF, but also through his Presidency of both the 2024 Olympic Games Evaluation Commission and the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee.

He has played his hand flawlessly so far, emerging as one of IOC President Thomas Bach’s principal go-to men when he needs stuff done.

Not only has Baumann accomplished what has been asked of him efficiently and without fuss; it is hard to think of anything he has said that Bach might not himself have uttered.

Now I don’t know whether Baumann harbours IOC Presidency ambitions. But, if he does, he has probably reached the point where he needs gradually to start edging out of Bach’s shadow - in ways small enough to give the big man no grounds for taking offence, but significant enough to be noticed.

The old GAISF logo was like something out of Dad's Army but, under new President Patrick Baumann, the organisation is becoming an increasingly important partner of the IOC ©ITG
The old GAISF logo was like something out of Dad's Army but, under new President Patrick Baumann, the organisation is becoming an increasingly important partner of the IOC ©ITG

This logo - which, though conspicuously inoffensive, gives GAISF a recognisably endearing new identity after a period when it seemed that it might be airbrushed out of Olympic history - strikes me as a good device for achieving this.

It is, moreover, the second such gesture on Baumann’s part to have crossed my radar in recent days.

The first came on August 25, when I was surprised to see him tweet congratulations to past GAISF  or SportAccord, as it was then - President Marius Vizer on his re-election as International Judo Federatiion (IJF) President.

Now Vizer has been pretty much a non-person at IOC Towers since his extraordinary attack on Bach at the SportAccord Convention in Sochi in 2015.

It seemed to me inconceivable that a figure as careful as Baumann would broadcast his good wishes in this way without being absolutely sure that it would not put noses out of joint on high.

But it also seemed interesting, if Vizer’s exile was over, that Baumann should be the one publically to transmit that message.

“MV defo coming in from the cold in olympicland,” I tweeted in reaction. (With my ear for languages, I find it easy to lapse into the Twitter argot - cough.)

And so it has proved, with Bach, no less, showing up for the mixed team event on Sunday at the IJF World Championships in Budapest.

The intriguing question is, ‘Why now?’

Call me a cynic, but I just cannot believe that the two men, Bach and Vizer, have buried the hatchet definitively: their clash was too spectacular; the bad blood truly bad.

In any case, if they had metamorphosed in recent months into BFFs, wouldn’t you expect Vizer’s name to have been on that overly long list of new IOC members for Lima?

I can think of two possible factors that might have contributed to the ending of the IJF President’s banishment.

1. Vizer’s special relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who attended part of the opening day of competition in the Hungarian capital. (Putin is Honorary President of the IJF and an eighth-degree judo black belt.)

The sport movement’s relationship with Russia will continue to require deft handling in coming months, as the fall-out from the Pound and McLaren reports rumbles on.

Should he be so minded, there seems little doubt that Vizer could be of assistance in communications with the Kremlin during a tense and potentially damaging period.

2. Judo’s special relationship with Japan. The sport is certain to provide some of the most enduring images of the next Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, when it will be staged, as in 1964, at the Nippon Budokan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, waves next to Marius Vizer, head of the International Judo Federation, right, during the World Championships in Budapest ©Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, waves next to Marius Vizer, head of the International Judo Federation, right, during the World Championships in Budapest ©Getty Images

This convenient location, plus the sport’s special place in Japanese culture, may make it a focal-point for visits to the Games by international political leaders. It will certainly be a prime focus of domestic Japanese interest, with local athletes expected to win medals aplenty.

Indeed, judo can also expect a special place at the next Summer Games in Paris in 2024, owing to the Teddy Riner factor.

All in all, it could be that Olympic bosses have decided Vizer is simply too influential to continue to be frozen out.

Relations between the IOC and GAISF have rarely been less than fascinating since the latter’s foundation 50 years ago opposite Lausanne railway station.

It will be worth watching to see whether the launch of this new logo signals the start of a new period when their interplay becomes interesting once again. 

And keep your eye on Patrick Baumann.