PtG Article 16.08.2010

Former IOC vice-president will not take part in YOG

Richard Pound, member of the IOC and the only IOC-internal critic of the Youth Olympic Games, waived the trip to Singapore, where the first Youth Olympic Games started this weekend.

SINGAPORE. The first Youth Olympic Games are opened. This is a new chapter in the history of the Olympic movement, said IOC President Jacques Rogge on Saturday at the opening show in a floating outdoor theatre at Marina Bay. But one who has had great impact on the Olympic Games and the IOC did not come to Singapore.

Richard Pound from Canada, the only IOC-internal critical voice in question of the Youth Olympic Games, waived the trip to Singapore, where almost all of the currently 113 IOC members meet these days.

“It would be hypocritical to spend even more of the IOC's money to come to something in which I do not believe”, says Pound. Instead of going to Singapore he went on vacation.

His absence is a blow for the IOC President Jacques Rogge. “From this moment on, young people around the world have a chance to participate in a global forum that combines sport, education and culture”, said Rogge at the Opening Ceremony, speaking to the 3.600 young athletes from 204 countries.

“This evening marks your entry into the Olympic world. You will test the limits of your abilities and push past them. Many of you will compete at future Olympic Games. All of you will benefit from these Youth Games.”

Little success predicted

When the idea of Youth Olympic Games was decided, at the IOC session 2007 in Guatemala, Richard Pound was the only one within the Olympic government body, who went out with fundamental critical points.

He was talking about the danger of doping during childhood. The IOC should rather organise an international conference first, instead of founding a big new event and taking a lot of risks.

"Will the Youth Olympic Games get one more — what we call 'a couch potato' in America — into the swimming pool or on the track?" said Dick Pound. He estimated that YOG will attract not more than two per cent of the young generation. “All the people involved are minors. They are still doing sports.”

Three years later, at the opening weekend of the Youth Olympic Games, the German sports scientist Eike Emrich (University of Saarbrücken) said that he has the greatest respect for Pound’s decision not to come to Singapore.

"People meet and celebrate each other in Singapore”, said Emrich, former Vice President of German Athletics Federation. “It decouples thought, word and action. And you garnish it with the fact that it allegedly is all about the Olympic ideal.”

A public critic

Richard Pound (68) is among the most deserving IOC members. He was IOC Vice President for a long time and was the key figure in the commercialisation of the Olympic Games starting in the early 1980s. The lawyer is a real Olympian, but he never refused to criticise publicly. He leaded the IOC inquiry commission during the Salt Lake City bribery scandal in 1999 and was the real IOC President at this time. He went for IOC presidency in 2001, but lost against Jacques Rogge and the corrupt South Korean IOC member Kim Un Young which was a shocking moment for Pound. He successfully served as a founding President of the World Anti-Doping Agency WADA from 1999 to 2007.

The Canadian affords the luxury of an own mind and speaks out uncomfortable truths. He is one of a very rare species in the IOC, the General Assembly of opportunists and careerists.