Heiberg Re-Elected To IOC Board; U.S. Member Finishes Last

Saturday, July 7th 2007, 5:21 pm
By: News On 6

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) _ Gerhard Heiberg of Norway was re-elected to the powerful IOC executive board on Saturday, defeating three other candidates and validating his work as the Olympics' top marketing official.

Heiberg, who ran the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, won on the first round of a secret ballot of the International Olympic Committee. He received 49 votes, followed by Spanish member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. with 22, Algeria's Mustapha Larfaoui with 15, and U.S. candidate Anita DeFrantz with six.

DeFrantz described the voting as another sign of global anti-American sentiment. There is no U.S. voice on the 15-member executive body.

``We unfortunately are still in the least-favored nation status,'' DeFrantz said. ``There is still a lot of work we have to do.''

Heiberg's seat had become vacant at the end of his four-year term. He is one of 10 regular members on the board, which also includes four vice presidents and president Jacques Rogge.

``I can promise you I will work as hard as ever ... to bring as much revenue to the Olympic movement as possible,'' Heiberg told the assembly.

The elections came on the final day of the four-day IOC session in Guatemala City. The centerpiece of the meeting was Wednesday's selection of Sochi, Russia, as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics. The Black Sea resort defeated Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Salzburg, Austria.

Rogge said on Saturday he would travel to Moscow soon to meet with President Vladimir Putin and Russian sports officials to discuss plans for the Sochi Games. Rogge was invited by Putin, who came to Guatemala to lobby for Sochi, joining the government leaders of Austria and South Korea.

Rogge said the IOC would study whether heads of state should attend future host city decisions.

``It can have advantages and disadvantages,'' he said. ``This is something we will assess.''

Rogge said the IOC, as part of a traditional review after each bid city campaign, would audit the financial accounts of the 2014 candidates. Some IOC members have expressed concern at the high costs, with the Russians and Koreans reportedly spending more than $40 million on their bids.

``We will take the necessary decisions if needed,'' Rogge said.

He confirmed, meanwhile, that six cities have so far entered the race for the 2016 Olympics: Chicago; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Doha, Qatar; Madrid, Spain; Tokyo, and Baku, Azerbaijan. Other cities may join before the deadline in mid-September. The IOC will pick the host city in 2009.

As head of the IOC marketing commission, Heiberg negotiates sponsorship deals, and his emphatic victory was seen as an endorsement of his key position and a vote of support for Rogge.

DeFrantz's low vote count was another humiliating result for the United States, which has been without a member on the board since Jim Easton lost his seat in 2006.

``I am stunned,'' DeFrantz said immediately after the vote. ``I hope this is not something to suggest that women cannot be elected to the executive board again.''

Rogge urged her to stay on as chair of the IOC's women and sports commission and said, ``We count on you very much to further promote the cause of women.''

There is one woman on the IOC board, vice president Gunilla Lindberg of Sweden.

Of the IOC's 115 members, 16 are women.

``The IOC should lead by example,'' Rogge said. ``It is true we don't have enough women. ... I'm doing my best to pave the way to have more women.''

DeFrantz, a former Olympic rower, has been a member since 1986. She became the first woman elected as an IOC vice president in 1997. She ran for the presidency in 2001, but finished last in the four-person race with nine votes.

American member Bob Ctvrtlik, the international relations director for the U.S. Olympic Committee, said it was unlikely the U.S. would put up another candidate until 2010.

The IOC also elected four new members _ Princess Haya of the United Arab Emirates, Andres Botero of Colombia, Rita Subowo of Indonesia and Patrick Baumann of Switzerland.

Haya, 33, is president of the International Equestrian Federation, and competed in show jumping for Jordan at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She is one of two wives of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, and the daughter of Jordan's late King Hussein.