LAUSANNE, 22th of January 2019 – His press officer was already pointing on his suited wrist with the watch, but Thomas Bach just kept talking. The president of the International Olympic Committee wanted to make his points clear and stay until the questions were out.
In the opening of AIPS Congress in Lausanne, Bach was talking about a wide range of topics, from the decision of the Swiss court to cancel the CAS sentence about banning athletes for being caught with doping for life to the future of the Olympics in media or the chance for e-sports to become a part of the Olympic movement. In the panel there were AIPS president Gianni Merlo and Marca director Juan Ignacio Gallardo.
Regarding the Swiss court sentence, he said: “It was not a surprise. Because of the restricted review of Swiss law, we knew there was a slim chance. But we owed it to the clean athletes.”
DATA & DOPING – For the future of fighting doping, he pointed out that access to the data becomes more important than ever. “A new case could come with the data who are now in the possession of WADA. To get this data is important. Only with this data you can give justice to the athletes,” he said. But it is not only doping the IOC is trying to take care of, he declared.
For example, about corruption, Bach admitted the IOC works with Interpol and Europol. “There are good results. Most important is prevention, and we are arising the awareness of the problem. That must be our first target.” He pointed out that there was some progress in his era as IOC president. “But you have to be realistic. Best regulations do not make you immune. I also ask you for your understanding in this.”
Same in doping. “We as a organisation should be not be judged about a case which may arise. We turned the page. There are regulations. We have a code of ethics, an Ethics Commission, new bids for the games. We still have cases from the past – but these were before the agenda,” he assured. “We would appreciate that it is acknowledged that we have turned the page.”
E-SPORTS – Another ongoing situation for the IOC is the case of e-sports and how to deal with them. The question of how to handle was first addressed in the 2017 summit. “We still have to find a common position. We started consulting with this industry. On the one hand we have the value space of the IOC. And on the other hand we have an industry with three main interests: the first is money, the second is money and the third is money.”
Bach told a anecdote about when he invited some e-gamers to Lausanne recently. It has been an interesting experience, he said. But there is still a long way to go until they understand each other: “We were from a totally different world, even the language was different.” He told about preparing himself with one vocabulary and practising it – until he was told that it was from another game and his communication partner didn‘t understand a word.
CLEAR POSITION – “First of all, there will be no cooperation with IOC and any kind of games against Olympic values. Killer games, games with discrimination, glorifying violence are a no-go. But we have another group: the FIFA games, NBA games – we are encouraging the federations to look into this and see the potential”, Bach added. In some sports these simulation are used for training athletes – something that promotes sport among young generations. “Maybe we can motivate gamers to move from virtual to real sports, but talking about medal events, that is way too early.”