Thomas Bach has been re-elected President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after receiving near-unanimous backing from the Session to serve a final four-year term.
Bach, the only candidate on the ballot box, earned 93 votes during the IOC’s second virtual Session yesterday.
There was one vote against and four abstentions.
The German lawyer, the ninth IOC President who was elevated to the top job in the Olympic Movement in 2013, is set to serve in the role until 2025.
Bach will begin his last four-year stint at the helm of the organisation after the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games close on August 8.
“Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for this overwhelming vote of confidence and trust,” Bach said.
“For me this is even more overwhelming considering the many reforms and the many difficult decisions we had to take and which affected all of us.
“I wanted to be the President for all of you, and that continues into my second and last term.
“My door, my ears and my heart remain open for each and everyone of you.
“I hope I can count on your commitment, dedication and friendship during the next four years.”
More than 30 IOC members praised Bach during the Session, which was ceremonially opened in Athens, the planned venue for the meeting before it was moved online because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bach announced that he would, as expected, stand for re-election last July, and was confirmed as the sole candidate for the Presidency in December.
The 66-year-old Olympic gold medallist in fencing became an IOC member at the age of 37 and served in numerous high-ranking roles, including a total of 11 years as a vice-president, before becoming President.
Bach was elected to succeed Jacques Rogge as IOC President at the Session in Buenos Aires seven years ago after triumphing in the second round of voting.
He received the most votes in the first round before defeating Puerto Rico’s Richard Carrión, Ng Ser Miang of Singapore, Switzerland’s Denis Oswald and Sergey Bubka of Ukraine in round two.
Bach claimed the IOC had been able to navigate the “sea of troubles” it has faced during his eight years in charge to date.
The German referenced the Russian doping scandal, the difficulties in organising the 2016 Summer and 2018 Winter Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Pyeongchang, respectively, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the postponement of Tokyo 2020 to this year.
Bach has also been President during a series of referendum defeats amid a decline in interest in hosting the IOC’s flagship event.
He claimed today that the IOC had faced “serious ethical problems because of lobbying misconduct” during the old procedure for selecting Olympic hosts, adding the organisation’s reputation had “suffered”.
Bach has also been criticised for centralising the power on the ruling Executive Board, but helped orchestrate the dual award of the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics to Paris and Los Angeles and oversaw the signing of a broadcast deal with NBC through to 2032.
“I will follow the same style of consultation, of taking the opinion of everyone, of unity in diversity,” Bach added.
“Being a President for everyone involves listening, consulting and taking into consideration the opinions of others, and then coming to decisions we think are best for the future of the Olympic Movement.”