Jan Štovíček is one of three officials that have been prevented from standing in the COC elections ©Jan Štovíček

The Czech Olympic Committee’s (COC) elections have been postponed for a fourth time due to a series of legal challenges as three men bid to ensure the organisation is "finally open to democratic discussion".

Jan Štovíček, President of the Autoklub of the Czech Republic (ACCR), Zdenek Ertl, chairman of Association of Sporting Federations, and Miroslav Jansta, chairman of Czech Union of Sport, are seeking to secure a place on to the COC Executive Board.

But the trio claim that they are being prevented from standing after being scrubbed off the list of candidates ahead of the COC elections.

COC incumbent Jiří Kejval, an International Olympic Committee member, was due to face challenger Filip Neusser in a Presidential election on February 26 only for it to be postponed after Štovíček and Ertl both secured court injunctions.

The elections had already been delayed twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic and has now been hit by a fourth postponement following another court injunction.

Štovíček revealed the COC attempted to stage the Executive Board elections "in a distant vote" on May 24 but said the City Court in Prague issued an injunction "repeatedly prohibiting" that vote from taking place outside of the organisation’s General Assembly.

"I would like to stress again, that the intention of these injunctions is ensuring a valid COC General Assembly meeting with a proper discussion,” Štovíček told insidethegames.

"All candidates in elections based on democratic principles must be allowed to participate not only in the elections, but also in the discussion which precedes.

"The City Court in Prague apparently strongly supports this idea, as similar injunction has been issued by second time and thus the fourth attempt of elections within the COC again failed due to serious legal faults.

"The Czech Olympic Committee, represented by Mr Kejval, must finally open a democratic discussion within the Committee and allow different opinions to be freely presented, as this is the crucial base of democracy and fair-play in sports. It is the right of all the members to voice their opinions and challenge the Committee’s leaders.

IOC member Jiří Kejval is due to face Filip Neusser in the COC Presidential election but the vote has been delayed due to COVID-19 and legal challenges ©Getty Images
IOC member Jiří Kejval is due to face Filip Neusser in the COC Presidential election but the vote has been delayed due to COVID-19 and legal challenges ©Getty Images

"There are several court actions taken by myself, the Czech Union of Sport - largest Czech sporting organisation - and Association of Sporting Federations.

"Issues raised by these court actions are serious and must be discussed and resolved openly, not overlooked and ignored."

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, the women's national team hockey coach and the only candidate standing against Kejval, 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.

Štovíček believes he can help improve the running of the COC having been a professional attorney for 25 years and founder of KSD Legal - a law firm specialised in sporting law - as well as being a former Court of Arbitration for Sport arbitrator and member of the International Automobile Federation‘s International Court of Appeal.

He is now a member of the International Motorcycle Federation Board, member of the International Biathlon Union legal and ethics committees, and President of the ACCR.

"My name is known and recognised in our country as leading expert in the area of sporting laws," said Štovíček.

Jan Štovíček is confident he can help improve the COC should he join its Executive Board ©Getty Images
Jan Štovíček is confident he can help improve the COC should he join its Executive Board ©Getty Images

"All the situation shows that management of COC does not head a correct direction and there is a strong opposition to its steps from major sporting organisation being its important members.

"Instead of a dialogue the COC management decided to push us into the position of having to attack their steps legal way."

Štovíček insists the legal challenges are a "matter of principle".

"I think it’s not really fair from the management of the Czech Olympic Committee to say that there are a few troublemakers who managed to destroy the election," added Štovíček.

"We had very good reasons why we made the court injunction because of the legal mistakes that have been done in this election procedure are crucial and the court agreed with that.

"Instead of being accused of making trouble or look at our personal ambitions, it is not true.

"I know the other people and it is a matter of principle.

"We would just like to have the respect of democracy."

Kejval 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.

insidethegames has contacted the COC for comment.