Zimbabwean swimming icon Kirsty Coventry is widely seen as a plausible candidate to succeed Thomas Bach as International Olympic Committee president, which would make her the organisation’s first female president.
This came as former IOC doyen Richard William Duncan Pound has advised Bach against seeking to extend his IOC presidency beyond the end of his term in 2025.
According to online publication, insidethegames, Coventry, who is currently the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation in Zimbabwe, is one of the two women likely to succeed Bach if the German lawyer decides against running for office again in 2025.
“Whether or not he does step down in 2025, there seems a good chance that the 10th IOC President will be the 128-year-old organisation’s first woman head,” says a report carried by insidethegames on New Year’s day.
“Both Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe and Nicole Hoevertsz of Aruba seem plausible candidates for the succession.
“Possible male presidential candidates might include World Athletics president Sebastian Coe, Neven Ilic, Chilean president of Panam Sports, and perhaps Juan Antonio Samaranch, Spanish son of the former IOC president of the same name, and Sergey Bubka, the one-time pole-vault champion.
“All nine IOC presidents to date have been white men, eight of them Europeans. The campaign messaging of any candidate to succeed Bach who is not a European male would accordingly more or less write itself.”
Pound has been a full IOC member for the past 44 years. But his membership ceased on December 31 after passing the applicable age-limit of 80 years.
Asked by insidethegames in an interview whether he would advise Bach not to seek to extend his term beyond 12 years, he replied: “I do not have the sense that Bach intends to try to amend the Olympic Charter in order to extend his presidency.
“Were he to ask for my advice, I would counsel him against such an action.”
Asked what qualities the next IOC President would need, Pound — undoubtedly the most important IOC member in history not to have been elected President — responded: “The Olympic Movement needs a leader who can communicate”. This was because “a successful Movement involves creating and maintaining a consensus (internal and external) on the inherent values of sport and Olympism”.
He added: “Communication consists of listening as much as (or more than) speaking”.
Under the current Olympic Charter, the president is elected by IOC members for a term of eight years, renewable once, for four years. Bach, a German lawyer and the ninth IOC president, was originally elected to succeed Belgium’s Jacques Rogge in Buenos Aires in September 2013. He was re-elected in March 2021.
The European quotient of voting IOC members currently remains over 40 percent, so it would appear rash to discount the possibility of yet another European leader emerging, explained Insidethegames.
However, pundits see Coventry fitting the bill for the next IOC presidency, although she has personally never spoken out about such an ambition.
The five-time Olympian and two-time Olympic champion in swimming, holds several leadership positions within the IOC and outside.
Coventry, who is the most decorated Olympian from Africa, has been a member of the IOC since 2013. Recently she was appointed chairperson of the IOC Coordination Commission for Brisbane 2032 Games.
The 39-year-old Zimbabwean swimming icon has also held various positions that include being member of the IOC Executive Board from 2018 until 2021 when the IOC Session in Tokyo approved the change of her IOC membership status to Individual Member.
Her profile on the IOC website shows she was IOC Member of the Athletes Commission (2013-2021), Chair of the Athletes’ Commission (2018-2021); Chair of the Coordination Commission for the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2022 (2018-); Chair of the Coordination Commission for the Games of the XXXV Olympiad Brisbane 2032 (2021-); Member of the following Commissions: Coordination for the Games of the XXXII Olympiad Tokyo 2020 (2014-2021), Olympic Solidarity (2014-), Olympic Channel (2015-2018), Evaluation for the Games of XXXIII Olympiad in 2024 (2016-2017), Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport (2016-2018), Public Affairs and Corporate Communications (2022-), Evaluation for the Youth Olympic Games 2022 (2018); Member of the Board of directors of Olympic Channel Services S.A and Switzerland (2018-2021). Zimpapers