March 14 - International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer has put himself forward to be the next head of SportAccord, and at the heart of his manifesto will be a radical plan for all the sports to hold a united World Championships once every four years.
The Austrian, who was born in Romania, is the first candidate to officially declare themselves as a candidate to replace Dutchman Hein Verbruggen, who has held the position since 2004.
The election for the President of SportAccord, the umbrella organisation for all Olympic and non-Olympic international sports federations as well as organisers of multi-sports games and sport-related international associations, is due to take place at its annual convention in St Petersburg between May 26 and 31.
The 54-year-old Vizer will start as the early favourite as the initial frontrunner, Ireland's International Cycling Union President Pat McQuaid, a close ally of Verbruggen, has seen his reputation badly damaged by the Lance Armstrong scandal.
Another candidate could be Switzerland's Denis Oswald, President of the International Rowing Federation,and the former chief of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.
"For me it was not an easy decision," Vizer, who has been President of the IJF since 2007, told insidethegames after sending his nomination papers to SportAccord's headquarters in Lausanne.
"I love my sport very much and follow it with much passion and I want to continue my involvement with it.
"But I believe that I can transfer what I have learned here to SportAccord.
"I believe I have the way and the strategy to transform SportAccord from a bureaucratic organisation into something that could support international and national sports federations, Olympic and non-Olympics.
"In partnership, working together, sport has unlimited potential.
"SportAccord is a very powerful organisation which has much more potential if it works in partnership."
Vizer's main plan is to launch a united World Championships that would see all the sports - Olympic and non-Olympic - once every four years hold their flagship events in the same country over a period of up to three weeks.
"We can use big countries, like the United States, Russia, China or India, or two or three medium-sized countries, without requiring investment in infrastructure," said Vizer.
"But, at the same time, it would create huge promotional opportunities for cities and countries."
Since Vizer took over as IJF President, judo has undergone a dramatic global transformation with the introduction of the World Judo Tour, a series of annual competitions consisting of five Grand Prix, four Grand Slams and at the end of each season the World Masters, as well as an annual World Championships.
While helping fund an elite circuit worth $1.5 million (£1 million/€1.2 million) annually in prize money to the top judokas, the IJF, under Vizer, has also implemented a development programme for its smaller developing members and and established Judo for Peace and Judo for Children programmes, allowing the sport to send a strong social responsibility message.
Vizer's plan to launch a groundbreaking united World Championships for all the sports would have a similar impact, except on a much larger scale, he hopes.
"I have spoken with a lot of leaders of international federations and most of them find the project very attractive and they consider it as a big positive challenge," Vizer said.
"It would generate money for education and for higher quality preparation for the Games, because we have to know the reality of sport in some countries in the world, particularly in Africa, some of the Asian countries, some of the Eastern European countries, in some parts of the Americas."
Vizer, though, denies he is trying to establish an event that could be a direct competitor to the Olympics.
"I do not believe that it would cause any controversy or conflict because my intention is to work with the International Olympic Committee," he said.
"We want to be a partner with ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees) in the project for the benefit of the sport.
"We have to find a solution to finance the base of the sport, the national federations.
"If you look at today's society it is concentrated in the direction of globalisation and we have to do the same.
"I am sure there are lots of companies in the market who would be attracted to this project and be a partner for it.
"I respect very much the Olympic spirit.
"The Olympic Games is today the highest expression of Olympic spirit and the value of the sport.
"The event that I propose is nothing to do with being against the Olympics – it is to finance and support the National Federations, children and youth sport for the quality and benefit of the Olympic Games.
"I think this is a convergent project with the IOC, ANOC, the NOCs (National Olympic Committees), including the national federations.
"They have a very important role."
To read a full interview with Marius Vizer click here.
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