Liam Morgan

At the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session later this month, a further 10 members will become part of what has been billed as sport's most exclusive club.

Among these 10 lucky officials who will be given money simply for turning up to IOC events, and without having to contribute in any way, are the former President of Costa Rica and the chief executive of Swiss multinational investment bank Credit Suisse.

Others who will be sworn in at the Session – a formality even if the IOC might try to suggest otherwise – include the President of the Cameroon National Badminton Federation and a Greek warned by the IOC Ethics Commission for his link to black market ticket sales at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Despite the IOC principally being a sporting organisation, even if it has deviated considerably from that mission since Thomas Bach was elected to lead the body in 2013, there is no place for a President of an International Federation (IF).

Yes, Narinder Batra, who was given a warning last year for an incendiary social media post in 2017, has been proposed as a member but his place is linked to his role as head of the Indian Olympic Association and not the International Hockey Federation.

Once the 10 have been approved by the Session, the IOC's membership will grow to 105 but only 11 – taking into account International Paralympic Committee President Andrew Parsons – are on the body as the head of an IF.

Just two IF Presidents were put forward in 2018, Parsons and International Gymnastics Federation chief Morinari Watanabe. It was a similar story in 2017 when International Equestrian Federation head Ingmar de Vos and World Rowing counterpart Jean-Christophe Rolland were added.

Spyros Capralos of Greece, left, is among 10 officials proposed for membership of the IOC ©Getty Images
Spyros Capralos of Greece, left, is among 10 officials proposed for membership of the IOC ©Getty Images

There was a suggestion before the latest batch of members were proposed by the Executive Board last month that there was space for as many as six IF Presidents, yet none have been deemed good enough by either the IOC's ruling body or the Members Election Commission.

Instead, there were three whose candidatures are linked to their role as a National Olympic Committee (NOC) President and seven individual members, three of which also occupy the top job at their respective NOC.

While it is undoubtedly important for the IOC to ensure its electorate is a blend of business, political and sporting acumen, particularly at a time when conflicts of interest are everywhere, it seems somewhat self-defeating not to add Federation Presidents who can bring their expertise and experience to the table.

In many ways it makes more sense to grant membership to secretary generals and chief executives of sporting organisations as they do not have to defend their positions every four years (although the amount of contested elections at IFs is not exactly high and the incumbents largely get their own way, as I wrote last week).

You have to wonder what the umbrella organisations, such as the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations and the Global Association of International Sports Federations, make of their lack of representation on sport's supreme body.

After all, without these federations, in spite of the influence and power the IOC has, the Olympic Games simply would not happen.

It is also hardly as if there is not room for them. Once the 10 have been given the green light at the Session, probably en-bloc and by a comfortable majority, the number of IOC members will swell to beyond the 100 mark.

The IOC membership will swell to 105 at the next Session in Lausanne ©Getty Images
The IOC membership will swell to 105 at the next Session in Lausanne ©Getty Images

A prominent criticism is that plenty of members are not as active in their duties as the IOC and they themselves claim to be.

Credence is given to this argument when you look at the most recent IOC Sessions, where the lack of interventions from the floor and the reluctance of seemingly everyone to question any of the decisions taken by the administration is there for all to see.

A scan of the composition of the 26 IOC Commissions whose representatives are appointed – the Athletes' Commission is largely, yet not totally, made up of elected competitors – does little to dispel that theory as there is a clear imbalance in the distribution of positions, particularly among the female members.

Aruba's Executive Board member Nicole Hoevertsz, whose influence in the Olympic Movement has grown expeditiously since the 1984 Olympian in synchronised swimming became part of the club in 2006, sits on no fewer than six Commissions, the most of any of the 95 current members.

A total of six women are each represented on five commissions – The Gambia's Beatrice Allen, Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco, Papua New Guinea's Auvita Rapilla, China's Li Lingwei, Sari Essayah of Finland and Spain's Marisol Casado.

These are clearly competent officials – Bach would not have given them this much responsibility otherwise – but the same women are being placed onto these bodies by the leadership.

The only other member who is part of five or more Commissions is Belgium's Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant.

An IOC release announcing the Commissions for 2019 hailed how female membership was at an all-time high, but of the 27 groups including the Athletes' Commission, only eight are chaired by women.

IOC President Thomas Bach has his trusted allies and lieutenants, who are often given high-profile roles within the organisation ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach has his trusted allies and lieutenants, who are often given high-profile roles within the organisation ©Getty Images

It also seems as though the same members are handed the crucial and most important roles on Commissions and other bodies established by the IOC.

It is natural that levels of ability will vary greatly among a selection of 105 people drawn from various backgrounds and industries, yet it is hard to escape the view that Bach only trusts a handful of them.

The IOC President certainly has his favoured lieutenants within the organisation he presides over. It is never a surprise to see distinguished Australian lawyer John Coates being appointed to a high-profile position, for example.

More generally, there are some members – the likes of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani – who rarely attend Sessions and other roles linked to their function as an IOC member as, quite simply, they have more pressing issues to tackle.

Such was the lack of interest in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang among the membership – they all care deeply about sport, remember – that the Session in the South Korean resort, where the main item on the agenda was to swear in new athlete representatives, was in doubt as the IOC feared it would not reach a quorum.

A spate of members had decided to leave the Games in the remote region early and it was claimed at the time that the IOC had to persuade some to return or stay longer to ensure the Session could go ahead as planned.

At the latest gathering of the members in Lausanne from June 24 to 26, they will be joined by 10 more who Bach insists "have a great passion for and knowledge of the Olympic and sports movement, which will help their mission and will be beneficial for the entire Olympic Movement".

Only time will tell whether or not they can live up to the high praise from the IOC President but it is unlikely they will buck the trend of adherence which Bach has fostered during his tenure.