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  • Kasper Walks Back 'Controversial' Statements


    (ATR) International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper says that controversial comments made in an interview with a Swiss newspaper “were not meant to be taken literally”.

    Gian Franco Kasper (FIS)
    Kasper gave a wide ranging interview this weekend to the Tagesanzeiger newspaper in Switzerland on the eve of the 2019 International Ski Federation alpine world championships in Are, Sweden. Kasper was a member of the IOC from 2000 to 2018, and is currently an honorary member. He has been president of FIS since 1998.

    In the interview Kasper said that he preferred to work with dictators when staging mega events, worried that the Winter Olympics were suffering from gigantism, and denied climate change.

    His comments were met with a harsh disavowal by the IOC, which released a statement addressing many of the points Kasper raised.

    “Recently, a report surfaced in the Swiss media with several controversial comments attributed to me,” Kasper said in a statement on the FIS website.

    “First and foremost, I would like to apologize as these comments were not meant to be taken literally but this was not clear in the final story. I take full responsibility for this misunderstanding and am sorry it has taken attention away from our athletes competing in the FIS World Championships.”

    Kasper said that his comment about the gigantism of Beijing 2022 “was taken out of context,” and only relates to hosts where new venues must be built.

    The IOC says that as part of its reform process the two countries currently bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics, Italy and Sweden, rely heavily on existing venues and all new venues come with plans not tied to the Olympic Games.

    Kasper made his remarks as the 2019 Alpine Skiing World Championships begin in Are, Sweden, a potential alpine venue for 2026. It is one of three FIS World Championships being staged this month. The Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships are ongoing in Park City, Utah, while the Nordic World Ski Championships start Feb. 19 in Seefeld, Austria.

    “It is therefore heartening to see how our three FIS World Championship 2019 hosts embody a philosophy that FIS holds close to its core,” Kasper wrote in his statement.

    In Utah, some events for the world championships are being held at venues used for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Are reached an “entirely new standard” for FIS World Championships by achieving full ISO Certification for sustainability, Kasper added.

    FIS says that Seefeld’s “dedication to leave a legacy for its community and use the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships as a catalyst for tourism,” show a commitment to ensuring future generations can responsibly use the venues from the championships.

    “So now let us focus on the highlight of the competition season with the FIS World Championships and join me in welcoming the world to the most exciting month of the year for anyone who has skiing and snowboarding in their heart,” Kasper concluded.

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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