Tue | Aug 4, 2020

Bach warns against Olympic boycotts, seeks re-election

Published:Friday | July 17, 2020 | 9:43 AM
In this May 4, 2019, file photo, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach speaks at the Australian Olympic Committee annual general meeting in Sydney, Australia. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

GENEVA (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach warned against Olympic boycotts on Friday while also confirming he will seek re-election next year.

Bach seems certain to get four more years in 2021 after almost half of the 100 International Olympic Committee members from around the world praised him in an online version of their annual meeting.

“As you can imagine, I could hear this forever,” Bach quipped during nearly a full hour of tributes to his leadership since his eight-year first term started in 2013, and from members welcoming his candidacy for the second term.

The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics will be an early highlight and a potential test of Bach’s second and, according to current IOC rules, final term in office.

Although serious talk of a boycott has not begun, China’s human rights record is an expected target ahead of the Olympics.

Some lawmakers and diplomats have criticised China for its detention and treatment of its Muslim minority Uighur people and pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong.

“Boycotts and discrimination because of political background or nationality are once again a real danger,” Bach warned in his keynote speech in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“A sporting boycott only punishes the athletes of the boycotting country and deprives their people of sharing in the success, pride and joy of their Olympic team.”

The issue is personal for Bach, who won a gold medal in team fencing at the 1976 Montreal Olympics but could not defend the title when West Germany joined the United States and others in refusing to send teams to the 1980 Moscow Games.

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