ITFWorld Autumn 2013

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ASOIF ALL ABOUT ASOIF At the beginning of this year ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti took over the presidency of ASOIF, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations. Olympic journalist Sebastian Fest interviewed Ricci Bitti at the recent IOC Session in Buenos Aires to find out more about the role and the organisation. Sebastian Fest: You are the ASOIF president, but not many people really know what ASOIF is. Can you explain it briefly? Francesco Ricci Bitti: ASOIF is the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations. Our mission is to take care of the common interests of all the sports federations involved in the summer Games. It looks a simple statement but it is challenging to manage. ASOIF interacts with other stakeholders in the Olympic movement, the IOC itself, National Olympic Committees and Organising Committees for the Games. SF: You've been yourself an IOC member, you know very well how things work there. Now, being outside of the IOC and the ASOIF president, how's your relationship with the IOC? FRB: I have a very good relationship, a very good one. But I believe in general that the role of the International Federations is undervalued. Our job is to improve this situation. We are an essential partner, especially for the organisation of the Games. SF: Are you asking for more power for ASOIF? FRB: It is not a matter of power, but of respect for the IF roles and contributions. The International Federations manage sport day by day, the Olympic sports. They have the appropriate knowledge and they are essential to the organisation of the Games. SF: After many years as the ITF president, how do you compare both positions? What is the difference between being the ITF president and the ASOIF president? FRB: The ITF is my primary job and it is very important to me. Being president of ASOIF is an honour and requires less of my time. It is still very important because it includes managing the relationship within the Olympic family. ASOIF's role is to represent on matters of common interest, serve and be available to all of our members from small federations to the largest ones like FIFA. SF: There is something you've been insisting a lot during the last few years: the IOC policy in terms of setting a limit of 28 sports at the Games is a limitation. FRB: Our position is very clear on the programme. We don't think that the solution to make the Games more sustainable is to cut out sports. The solution is to look inside each discipline. We have never liked the process by which sports are included and excluded. This is not in anyone's best interests. We believe that the IOC has many different tools to improve the effectiveness of the International Federations so that they are managed according to good governance principles. I think that everybody now understands what I've been saying for years. They even talk about the "Ricci Bitti position." 8 ITFWORLD AUTUMN 2013 SF: Also Thomas Bach, the new IOC president? FRB: This is surely one of the challenges for the new president. He will have to take a direction. And with the present economic downturn, it is even more important to make sure that organising an Olympic Games is an attractive proposition from the perspective of the bidding cities to the end result of the fan experience. If we do not look after this, we risk not having enough good bids for the Games and this would be disastrous. SF: To add more sports to the Games could be seen as a way to stop SportAccord President Marius Vizer's project of the World Games. Do you agree? FRB: I don't like to talk about dreams or projects that are not finalised. If the project becomes reality, then we can comment on the complexity and feasibility. Now the World Games are only an idea. Whatever happens with the World Games, we need to recognise that we already have a jewel in the Olympic Games and our first priority should be to protect this jewel. SF: There is a weird situation with Tokyo 2020. The same IOC assembly that gives the Games to Japan decided to cut out baseball, which is the most popular sport in that country. Do you foresee any chance of bringing back baseball and softball for Tokyo 2020? FRB: At the moment not, you have to respect the rules. At the same time, baseball and softball are among the first sports in the USA, Cuba, Korea, Japan and the Caribbean. There will be obviously a debate... We want to review the procedure, which I don't think is wise, to assess sports every three or four years to include or exclude them. Again, I think we should analyse more inside the programme to see if there are sensible ways to make the programme sustainable without limiting the number of sports. This is an IOC duty, but ASOIF is ready to contribute if we are asked to do so. SF: There is ASOIF, the Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations AIOWF and some others, plus SportAccord. How can a sports fan understand so many names and organisations? FRB: There are only three IF organisations, ASOIF and AOIWF, plus SportAccord of course. But our functions are very different. ASOIF and AOIWF provide service and assure representation to our members in Olympic matters. SportAccord focusses its attention on organising a very successful convention and specialised games (Combat, Mind, Beach etc) as well as providing services to non-Olympic International Federations.

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