KEIR RADNEDGE in LONDON: The Singapore sailor who would be lord of the five rings has stepped into territories already thrown wide open by two of his rivals for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee.
Ser Miang Ng, senior vice-president of the IOC, was making a flying visit to London ahead of the September 7 vote in Buenos Aires which matches his ambition against that of Thomas Bach (Germany), Sergei Bubka (Ukraine), Richard Carrion (Puerto Rico), Denis Oswald (Switzerland) and C K Wu (Taiwan).
Carrion had opened up a route to controversy last week with challenging comments about Russia’s anti-gay laws while Bach has seen Germany’s sports credibility crumble with the weekend leaking of a report into decades-long systematic doping.
Ng, facing the international media over lunch with the London Olympic Stadium as a dramatically significant backdrop, was tested first over Carrion’s intervention: Just six months ahead of the Sochi Winter Games the Puerto Rican banker had frowned on Russia’s new law prohibiting ‘gay propaganda.’
The 64-year-old thought the route to resolution lay in diplomatic discussion rather than wayward words.
He said: “I believe the IOC through the coordination commission is talking with the highest authorities in Russia and we should leave it to the effects of diplomacy.
“Russia has invested a lot in these Games; it wants them to be a great success. It has all this in common with the IOC and I’m confident we will both make the best efforts to make sure this will be the case. Neither one would want to make any move which would jeopardise the Games.
“We both want to make sure our athletes and officials and visitors enjoy themselves so this is a joint objective . . . which will be resolved to the satisfaction of both sides.”
Ng discounted the possibility of a boycott by any country upset by the Russian stance. He pointed out that taking the Games around the world involved showing respect for other countries’ different customs and cultures.
In any case, past events had shown that the only people hurt by boycotts were athletes who had trained for years for the Games.
One of the main planks of Ng’s manifesto is an insistence that the next president of the IOC should extend and enhance the work undertaken by retiring president Jacques Rogge to “safeguard the integrity of sport.”
This had been challenged by illegal betting, matchfixing and evidence of widespread doping across the Olympic world. Most recent evidence had been the weekend leaking of a report which embarrassed German sport.
Bach, favourite to become next IOC president, had been involved in the commissioning of the report in 2008 in his role as president of the German Olympic sports federation (DOSB).
He could hardly have expected it to come back and bite him at such an untimely moment in the Olympic political cycle.
Ng hoped to see full and open publication of the 800-page report, compiled by researchers from the Humboldt University in Berlin, as soon as possible.
He expressed himself bemused that one of the other commissioning authorities had been the Federal Institute of Sport Science which had been involved in the doping programme’s operation.
Ng added: “I find it mind-boggling that any country is engaged in systematic doping and I believe that we need this report to come out as soon as possible.
“The credibility of the [Olympic] movement depends on the integrity of sport and each constituent body – from the IOC to the national Olympic committees to the international federations.”