- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2001

MOSCOW After more than two decades under one leader, the International Olympic Committee is entering unfamiliar territory: electing a new president.
With Juan Antonio Samaranch stepping down after 21 years, the IOC will define its future when it chooses the eighth president in the organization's 107-year history.
Following a low-key campaign, Belgian surgeon Jacques Rogge is the favorite heading into next Monday's vote in Moscow the same city where Samaranch was elected in 1980.
Rogge's chief rivals for the most powerful post in international sports are South Korea's Un-yong Kim and Canada's Dick Pound. The two other candidates are Anita DeFrantz of the United States and Hungary's Pal Schmitt.
Samaranch, who turns 81 on July 16, had the IOC's age limit raised so he could stay in office this long, but new age and term limits were adopted last year as part of a reform package.
The new president will serve an eight-year term, with the option of seeking a second four-year mandate. The retirement age has been lowered to 70.
The IOC's 100-plus members will vote by secret ballot. The candidate receiving the fewest votes will be eliminated after each round until one emerges with a majority.
Rogge's supporters believe he should get about 50 votes on the first ballot, with Kim getting 37-40, Pound 20 and Schmitt and DeFrantz the rest.
The Kim camp believes the Korean will get 50 first-round votes, followed by Rogge with 40 and Pound in the 20s.
But some influential members believe Kim's strength is greatly exaggerated and that Pound could be Rogge's main challenger.
What's certain is that Rogge has strong support in Europe, by far the largest regional bloc in the IOC with 58 members.
Kim counts on votes from Asia, Africa and South America as well as some from Europe. Pound's regional support is less defined.
Another potential factor is the IOC vote, three days earlier, on the host city of the 2008 Olympics. Beijing is the strong favorite against Paris and Toronto.
If Beijing wins, it might hurt Kim's presidential hopes because the IOC might be reluctant to give two major prizes to Asia. Rogge's chances might suffer if Paris wins, while a Toronto-Pound sweep for Canada is highly unlikely.
Four of the five candidates are former Olympic athletes: Rogge (sailing), Pound (swimming), DeFrantz (rowing) and Schmitt (fencing). Kim is a black belt in taekwondo.
Rogge, 59, is an orthopedic surgeon and head of the European Olympic Committees; Kim, 70, is a Korean legislator and former diplomat who heads the General Association of International Sports Federations; Pound, 59, is a Montreal lawyer and chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency; DeFrantz, 48, heads the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles; and Schmitt, 59, is Hungary's ambassador to Switzerland.
All five are or have been regular members of the IOC executive board, the organization's powerful inner cabinet.
Rogge is the shortest-serving of the five, elected to the IOC in 1991 and promoted to the executive board in 1998. But he has held high-profile roles as IOC coordinator of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and 2004 Athens Games and as vice chairman of the IOC's anti-doping panel.
Rogge's European base, shortage of political enemies, linguistic skills (he speaks five languages), diplomatic style and quiet charm are among the factors making him the front-runner.
Coming from tiny Belgium might also help.
"If you come from a big country, there will always be people who will not want you to take the lead because your country is leading," Rogge said. "Belgium is a small country with no enemies. No one will ever fear that we will be dominating."
Kim, an IOC member since 1986, has built up an extensive network of allies through his work with the international federations and financial contributions to African sports programs.
But Kim's age is considered a disadvantage. He also carries the baggage of having received a serious warning following the IOC inquiry headed by Pound into the Salt Lake City scandal.
Kim, whose son reportedly accepted a sham job funded by the Salt Lake bid committee, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, saying, "I am a benefit giver, not a benefit taker."
Kim has portrayed himself as the defender of traditional Olympic ideals, warning the games are being undermined by over-commercialization. He has also made the controversial proposal of reinstating visits to bid cities, which were banned following the Salt Lake affair.
While Rogge and Pound represent continuity, Kim's potential election has caused alarm among some members and Olympic sponsors.
"Kim represents the power elite in the federations attempting to pull a power play," said John MacAloon, a University of Chicago professor and Olympic historian who served on the IOC reform commission. "I believe an election of Mr. Kim would be tantamount to a concession of the bankruptcy of the organization. It would be a capitulation to the forces of money and backstage dealing and power politics."
Samaranch, who insists he is neutral, has signaled his opposition to Kim in several ways.
He called off at the last moment a trip to Seoul this spring in what was seen as a snub to Kim. He has repeatedly expressed his opposition to Kim's proposal for reinstating bid city visits, and frequently notes that four of the candidates (all except Kim) are former Olympic athletes.
Pound, a member since 1978, has won plaudits for negotiating the television and sponsorship deals that have poured billions of dollars into IOC coffers.
Though widely respected and considered to have the sharpest wit and intellect of the candidates, the Canadian has been viewed over the years as aloof by many rank-and-file members. His role as prosecutor in the Salt Lake case might not have won him any friends, either.
"I hope it's decided on issues, not personality," Pound said. "There's no question I have the most experience. I think my chances are very good."
DeFrantz is the first woman, and first black, to run for the presidency, and is a strong advocate for promotion of women in Olympic leadership positions. But she lacks broad support, as does Schmitt.
Under election rules drafted by the IOC ethics commission, traditional political campaigning was prohibited. The race has been waged in virtual secrecy, with candidates doing most of their lobbying by phone, e-mail and fax.
The candidates have offered no dramatic or revolutionary change. Their campaign programs are vastly similar.
"All five have the necessary experience and leadership skills," Rogge said. "It's going to be a matter of the members saying, 'I trust this person more than the others.' "

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