PARIS: Nawal El Moutawakel has explained that timing was everything in staying out of  the race to succeed Jacques Rogge as president of the International Olympic Committee.

The 51-year-old Moroccan became an IOC vice-president last year and is head of the coordination commission trying to keep Rio de Janeiro organisers in line ahead of the 2016 Games host city.

Six candidates will contest the Rogge succession at the climax of the 125th IOC Session [congress] n Buenos Aires on September 10. They are all men.

El Moutawakel, also a vice-president of the International Assocation of Athletics Federations, clarified her own views in an interview with the French sports website,

Female influence

She said: “I decided it was not the right moment. I want to continue to serve the Olympic movement which has given me so many opportunities. I think I can a support to whoever does take over the reins of the IOC and bring to bear my experience which runs to a quarter of a century.”

Speculation has focused on El Moutawakel because no woman has ever led the Olympic body.

She said: “I think every organisation nowadays needs female input. It’s essential in every project, whatever that may be. Women have shown they are as capable as men of leading the way in society.

“At last year’s Olympics in London, for the first time in the history of the Olympic movement, 35 countries included more woman than men in their delegations.”