Departing International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Jacques Rogge does not believe non-Europeans have an advantage in the forthcoming presidential elections.
In a telephonic press conference late on Wednesday Rogge said he does not believe that the nationality of the candidates will play a role.
“My colleagues will elect the person who can best lead the IOC. They will not go according to the persons’ nationality or from which continent he comes,” Rogge said in one of his last interviews.
Six candidates are in the running for the elections that are to be held in Buenos Aires on September 10, with Germany’s Thomas Bach the favourite.
His rivals are Denis Oswald (Switzerland), Sergei Bubka (Ukraine), Richard Carrion (Puerto Rico), Ng Ser Miang (Singapore) and Wu Ching-Kuo (Taiwan).
In the IOC’s 199-year history there has been just one president who did not come from Europe: Avery Brundage from the US, who headed the organisation from 1952 to 1972.
Rogge dismissed speculation that influential Kuwaiti Sheikh Fahad Al-Sabah, who is the president of the Association of the National Olympic Committees (ANOC), could play a decisive role in the elections.
“I have no reason to be concerned. He has been doing fantastic work as the president of ANOC, he organised good Asian Games and I have a great relationship with him.
“There is unity between the IOC, ANOC and the National Olympic Committees.”
Some of the presidential candidates have said they would increase the age limit of IOC members back to 75 or 80 years, but Rogge does not believe that will happen.
“I think it will not pass. I think that is important for the reputation of the IOC.”
The Belgian said he believes there is a good chance that wrestling will stay in the Olympic programme for the 2020 Games.
“The wrestling federation has found a good answer to the challenges they have been facing.”
Rogge and the IOC executive decided in February that wrestling was no longer a core-sport and was thus not guaranteed a place in the Olympic programme.
The 125th IOC session in Buenos Aires will decide whether wrestling remains in the programme, softball/baseball returns or squash introduced for the first time.
He is confident that the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 in Brazil will be a huge success, notwithstanding the mass demonstrations that marred the recent Confederations Cup.
“The football World Cup will bring a huge boost for the Games and both will be a success,” the former sailor said, adding that Brazilians love football and have a strong team.
“All these factors make me very optimistic.”
However, he said, people had to be told that the huge investments in the infrastructure for Olympic Games was a legacy for the future and explain to them what the money was being spent on.
“The Games improve society and communities. That is the message we have to send,” he said.
The 71-year-old said that he would no longer be involved in Olympic politics after the elections.
“It would not be wise if the former and present presidents comment on matters. I will not become involved in IOC affairs after September, I will become an Elder Statesman.”