(ATR) Thomas Bach says there should be no concerns over the impartiality of the IOC Ethics Commission as it will review the case of Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah this January.
IOC president Thomas Bach is given the Tokyo 2020 mascots (ATR)
IOC Ethics Commission chair Ban Ki Moon stepped aside from any investigation into Sheikh Ahmad citing the perception of a conflict of interest. Sheikh Ahmad stepped aside from his IOC roles after Swiss prosecutors charged him with forgery related to a previous case in Geneva. The charges stem from a Kuwaiti political dispute between Sheikh Ahmad and his cousin Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
Moon was elected chair of the Ethics Commission in 2017. He told Around the Rings
before the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics that “it important that the Olympic Movement should be carried out in fair, objective, transparent and accountable manner”.
The perceived conflict of interest stems from the fact that Moon’s Center for Global Citizenship receives money from the Kuwaiti government. Another perceived conflict stems from the fact that IOC Executive Director Christophe DeKepper serves on the center’s board.
Sheikh Ahmad has said he will step aside from the Association of National Olympic Committees Presidency through the Swiss trial. A number of NOCs contested the Sheikh’s decision, prompting confusion about the body’s election procedures. Bach said he could not comment on the situation as he had left the ANOC General Assembly when questioning began.
If the Sheikh steps aside, it is likely that IOC member Robin Mitchell will be elected senior vice president taking over Presidential responsibilities during the Sheikh’s absence. Mitchell was a member of the IOC Ethics Commission last year when Sheikh Ahmad was named in a guilty plea during the ongoing FIFA scandal.
However, the IOC’s website now lists Mitchell as a former member of the Ethics Commission from 2013-18.
When asked if there can still be confidence in the commission following Moon’s recusal Bach said to ATR
“[Ban] declared there the perception of a conflict of interest and this is why he doesn’t take part in this case,” Bach said. “[The Ethics Commission] did their job.”
Bach spoke to reporters at Tokyo 2020 headquarters where he met selected staff members from the organizing committee for a group photograph. There he told the gathered individuals that “we need one team for our dream,” of making the Tokyo 2020 Olympics a success.
“We are all sitting in the same boat; sitting in the same boat is not enough we have to row in the same direction,” Bach said.
“One difference from rowing is they are sitting backwards. We want to move forward.”
Bach with one of the Tokyo 2020 staff members (ATR)
Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said that the organizing committee is working for the same goal as the IOC and growing at a rapid pace. Currently the committee has over 2,000 staff members, which is expected to grow in the next year.
“Working in three buildings makes it hard [sometimes] to climb into the same boat,” Mori said.
In a lighthearted scene, Mori singled out two Tokyo 2020 staffers to shake hands with Bach and make an introduction. He said the pair of staffers “had the most shining eyes and were taking a lot of photos” before bringing them up on stage.
The pair declined to speak about the experience following the meeting, but work in the people management and transport sectors of Tokyo 2020.
Written by Aaron Bauer in Tokyo
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