Gian-Franco Kasper has issued an apology to athletes after controversial comments were reported in the media ©Getty Images

International Ski Federation (FIS) President Gian-Franco Kasper has apologised to athletes for the controversy caused after he claimed it is easier to organise the Olympic Games in countries governed by a dictatorship.

The 75-year-old Swiss said the comment was "not meant to be taken literally" but that he took "full responsibility" for the drama caused, while also seeking to clarify quotes on downsizing the Winter Olympics.

Two FIS World Championships are currently taking place and Kasper claimed he was sorry that focus had been taken away from the athletes.

The Alpine World Championships are ongoing in Åre in Sweden while Utah in the United States is staging the Freestyle Skiing and Snowboard World Championships.

In an interview with Swiss-German newspaper Tages-Anzeiger, Kasper was quoted as saying: "Dictators can organise events such as this without asking the people's permission.

"For us, everything is easier in dictatorships."

It was thought to be a reference to the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Chinese capital Beijing, where term limits for the President were abolished last year.

"Recently, a report surfaced in the Swiss media with several controversial comments attributed to me," Kasper said. 

"First and foremost, I would like to apologise as these comments were not meant to be taken literally but this was not clear in the final story.

"I take full responsibility for this misunderstanding and am sorry it has taken attention away from our athletes competing in the FIS World Championships."

Kasper also addressed his comments on the size of the Winter Olympic Games, where he suggested "we need to be careful not to kill ourselves by having too much".

He also claimed the International Olympic Committee (IOC), where he is a member, needs a "more modest Winter Olympics" in an interview with insidethegames.

Gian-Franco Kasper's comments came during the ongoing FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships in Sweden ©Getty Images
Gian-Franco Kasper's comments came during the ongoing FIS Alpine Skiing World Championships in Sweden ©Getty Images

This view was questioned as the FIS have far more events on the Winter Olympic programme than any other governing body.

"A remark published in the media, which appears to have been taken out of context concerning this depth and breadth of different FIS competitions, notably at the Olympic Winter Games, relates to my concerns of having to build new venues for additional sports, leading to so-called 'gigantismus', and especially in places where there is likely to be limited legacy for their use otherwise," Kasper said.

The IOC had already responded to Kasper's quotes on the size of the Games.

"We would welcome any proposals to reduce the size of the Olympic Winter Games from FIS, which is responsible for nearly half of the quota of athletes at the Games," a spokesperson said.

"As a member of every [IOC] Coordination Commission for the last 20 years, including the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, Mr Kasper was always heavily involved in all the planning and preparations undertaken to deliver the Olympic Winter Games.

"For the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, FIS asked for a number of new events and additional quota. 

"The IOC applying its Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, however, took the decision which led to an overall reduction in the number of athletes."

Kasper previously caused outrage when he compared calls for Russia to be banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang to the holocaust.