Today: Last Update:

  • IOC Chief Satisfied with Innsbruck Youth Olympics Leadership Plan


    Jacques Rogge tells ATR the Innsbruck YOG leadership issue will not disrupt preparations. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) IOC President Jacques Rogge tells Around the Rings the leadership problems that threatened to derail preparations for the Innsbruck 2012 Youth Olympics are being resolved. A new CEO is expected to be appointed Sept. 1.

    Christoph Platzgummer, president of Innsbruck 2012, and CEO Martin Schnitzer were forced out in July amid a financial row over their part in the Austrian city’s loss-making role in the UEFA Euro 2008 football championships.

    Rogge insisted the impact of their departure on fast-track preparations for the first ever winter YOG was “short lived”.

    “The preparations continue to work but there have been personnel issues mostly for perfectly good reasons with the resignation of Mr Platzgummer, the president,” he told ATR in Berlin last week at the conclusion of two days of Executive Board meetings.

    “It does not disrupt. If I tell you that for the Sydney Games, which I coordinated, I had six presidents and four CEOs, that tells all. In Athens, I had four CEOs before Gianna [Angelopoulos-Daskalaki ] arrived, she was the fifth one, so we are used to that,” Rogge said.

    Rogge said he was reassured about YOG preparations following a “very good visit of Gilbert Felli [Olympic Games executive director] with the mayor of Innsbruck” last week. There were more than 40 applications for the position of the new CEO, he said.

    Platzgummer and Schnitzer quit following revelations in Austrian media that the city’s Fan Parks for the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament had led to a $1.7 million loss for the city. Platzgummer was the city’s vice mayor and a former coordinator at Euro 2008, while Schnitzer held a senior position in organizing the city’s role in the UEFA showpiece.

    An interim management board was installed in July to steer the YOG 2012 organizing committee forward while the search for a new CEO takes place. The city’s mayor Hilde Zach replaced Platzgummer as president of Innsbruck 2012.

    Peter Bayer, one of the two interim CEOs, told ATR on Tuesday that 43 applications for the vacant CEO post had been received in time for yesterday’s deadline. He declined to say if he had applied for the job. Jürgen Steinberger, director for finance and communications, is the other interim chief executive.

    Innsbruck 2012 YOG shareholders will meet to decide the new CEO on Sept. 1, he said.

    “We are working very closely with the [IOC’s] YOG department; the transfer
    Austria has a passion for winter sports. The FIS Ski Jumping World Cup was held in Innsbruck in January (Getty Images)
    of knowledge is working well,” said Bayer, Innsbruck’s director for marketing, events and innovation.

    “I think preparations are rolling very well at the moment.”

    He said that YOG organizers held a fruitful meeting with the IOC’s Felli last week: “It basically showed how well we have moved forward.”

    Felli’s visit came before the IOC Executive Board meetings in Berlin where the winter YOG sports program was approved. It was decided that Innsbruck 2012 will have a similar number of medal events as the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

    Bayer said the decision allowed YOG organizers to get on with finalizing the venue masterplan in the coming weeks.

    He insisted plans to recruit private sector sponsors for the YOG are in hand; the organizing committee will not officially confirm the spread of partnerships available until the autumn. The Games Foundation plan, which includes a marketing strategy, is not expected to be completed until late September or October, he said.

    About $8 million needs to be raised from the private sector; the city state and federal governments have given financial guarantees to deliver $13 million. YOG leaders are also seeking financial support from the IOC.

    “We are meeting with companies and the interest is very high for the YOG in contrast to what people might expect. I am very positive in raising the funds we need to find,” Bayer said.

    The Innsbruck YOG may not have much of a profile outside Austria, but Bayer insists the project is generating plenty of interest in the city which hosted the 1964 and 1976 Winter Games.

    “The positive vibrations in Innsbruck are very interesting to watch. People are very excited about the YOG and the new culture and education program… that is something we feel will work very well in the city and with the people of the country,” Bayer said.

    The IOC Coordination Commission for YOG 2012 led by Gian-Franco Kasper will hope to see visible signs of this enthusiasm along with significant progress on preparations when it visits Oct. 20 and 21.

    With reporting from Mark Bisson.

    For general comments or questions, click here.

    Your best source of news about the Olympics is, for subscribers only.