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  • Big Changes for Olympic Sport in Germany


    German Olympic Committee President Klaus Steinbach(l) and German Sports Federation President Manfred von Richthofen celebrate the merger vote in Cologne Saturday. (Andrea Bowinkelmann) 
    (ATR) Olympic sports in Germany will merge into a single organization aimed at improving the country's performance at the Olympic Games.

    The merger was approved in two separate votes Saturday at an extraordinary of the two organizations in Cologne.

    The National Olympic Committee and German Sports Federation will now become known as the German Olympic Sport Federation as of May 20, 2006.

    The combination of the two organizations has been talked about for years as a way to strengthen and make more efficient the administration of Olympic sport in the country. A merger was rejected in 1996, but a sixth-place finish in the medals table for Germany in Athens rekindled merger talks.

    While the German Olympic Committee had handled the Olympics, the much larger German Sports Federation led the administration of the separate sports, Olympic as well as non-Olympic sports.

    Requiring a 75% vote of both organizations, the merger was approved easily by the sports federations, but squeaked by in the vote by the Olympic committee. Winter sports federations were opposed to the merger.

    "I can't even begin to imagine what the consequences would have been if there had been a few more no votes," said Manfred von Richthofen, president of the German Sports Federation. The vote came on the 55th anniversary of the formation of the federation.

    A search will begin for a president to run the new sports body, with likely candidates to include von Richthofen and NOC President Klaus Steinbach.

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