Jiří Kejval faces a challenge for the Czech Olympic Committee Presidency but the election has been postponed for the third time ©Getty Images

A legal challenge has forced the postponement of the Czech Olympic Committee (COC) elections for the third time.

Sitting President Jiří Kejval was due to face the challenge of women's national team hockey coach Filip Neusser on February 26, but two COC members successfully obtained a court injunction to stop the process in its tracks.

Vice-presidents and members of the COC Executive Board were also due to be elected, with the COVID-19 pandemic already causing two postponements to the vote in October and November.

The two members who gained the injunction have been named in Czech media as Zdeněk Ertl and Jan Štovíček, who were prevented from standing for the Executive Board.

According to the COC, they are part of a group which unites non-Olympic sports and other organisations (CKSOI), and can therefore only win a place on the Board through separate CSKOI elections which already took place last year.

Ertl and Štovíček claim their exclusion is against COC statutes, however.

Another court bid brought by the Czech Union of Sport to amend the format of the Presidential election was rejected - with Ertl saying that this was for "formal" and not "factual" reasons.

The COC said a "parliamentary" system would be used - without the normal participation of delegates at the Czech plenum.

Neusser is among the critics of the move.

According to the COC, 70 out of 79 members voted in favour of the change but the success of Ertl and Štovíček brought the Presidential vote to a halt anyway.

The COC said it would appeal against the injunction.

"It is frustrating," said Kejval, who is an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member.

A legal challenge has successfully brought the Czech Olympic Committee's elections to a halt ©Getty Images
A legal challenge has successfully brought the Czech Olympic Committee's elections to a halt ©Getty Images

"This was already our third attempt. 

"If it wasn't for COVID-19, it would have been resolved long ago. 

"It is difficult for anyone to accuse us of not doing our best to hold the elections, despite the current crisis. 

"The elections are important so that the Czech NOC can move on and focus on preparations for two Olympic Games within six months of each other."

The CKSOI elections lead to one vice-president and two other Executive Board members winning seats.

"In these elections, one of the individuals in question did not stand for any position and the other was not elected by his peers," the COC said.

"The Czech Olympic Committee notes with interest that the NOC statutes that are being challenged were amended in 2013 when the individuals leading the challenge were sitting on the Czech NOC Legislation Council that approved them."

Ertl said that he voted not to approve the statutes in 2013 and added that he had "constantly been trying to draw attention to errors".

He said that some of the COC statutes were "against the Olympic charter".

Kejval was the Czech Rowing Association President from 1996 to 2014 and has been in charge of the COC since 2012.

He became an IOC member in 2018, a year later than planned after allegations of financial impropriety which were eventually dismissed.

Neusser's support includes that of the Czech Hockey Federation. 

"Due to the current COVID-19 situation, after two attempts to hold elections during a plenary session, the Czech NOC decided to use a 'parliamentary' election format outside of the Czech NOC Plenum," the COC added. 

"This was criticised by the Presidential candidate Filip Neusser, who stands against current President Jiří Kejval, and challenged in court by the Czech Union of Sport, but the petition was rejected.

"The validity of this election format, the election rules and procedural code was also approved by an out of meeting vote in which 70 out of 79 NOC members voted in favour, and only four members of the plenum voted against.

"Nevertheless, the elections had to be postponed due to the court-imposed interim injunction."