December 6, 2013
Taiwan’s Wu competing in the other Olympic race
Boxing normally leaves you with one rival in the ring but Ching-kuo Wu, the Taiwanese president of the International Boxing Association (AIBA), has five in the race to replace Jacques Rogge at the helm of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Most eyes might be on the tussle between Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics which will mark the start of the IOC’s plenary meeting here tomorrow but the election of the new president will mark the climax of the session next Tuesday.
The five rivals? Germany’s Thomas Bach (tipped by many as frontrunner), Dennis Oswald (from Switzerland, the host country of IABA headquarters in Lausanne), the former Ukrainian pole-vaulting legend Sergei Bubka, Ser Miang Ng from Singapore (another Asian island mostly speaking Chinese) and Puerto Rican banker Richard Carrión. All of them friends and colleagues, Wu insists — they might campaign for three months in an Olympic spirit but then they have to work together for many years.
But it is Wu who is giving the interview so let us hear what he has to say.
Basically, Wu wants to be the first IOC president to carry the Olympic spirit beyond the Games themselves — the organization of the event generally looks after itself very nicely (apart from the increasingly prohibitive cost which he would like to control by stipulating that half the installations be temporary) but he wants to see the Olympic spirit also prevailing between Games, pressuring IOC members who disturb world peace in the intervening four years.
The Herald suggested that Wu might be trying to achieve via the IOC what Taiwan is unable to do through the United Nations where it is no longer a member but the architect dismissed the idea. Puerto Rico and Switzerland were not UN members either, thus meaning that half this year’s IOC field came from outside the UN, while his IABA comprises 196 federations — more members than the UN (there are 204 Olympic countries). In any case the issue was sports, not international politics.
The Herald further expressed surprise that such pacifistic views should come from the head of such a violent sport but Wu insisted that boxing was a noble art which taught discipline and the control of violence — gloves were more padded than ever and there were more injuries in other sports.
Like some local politicians these days, Wu is a partisan of shorter terms. Noting that there have only been four IOC presidents since Avery Brundage started in 1952 (Juan Antonio Samaranch held sway for 21 years), Wu spoke of mandating single eight-year terms which were enough to implement any manifesto.
Wu also vows zero tolerance against doping and illegal betting because they destroy sport — and he means it when he talks about enforcing the rules because he has not hesitated to suspend the United Kingdom and even the United States from the IABA as its head.
Perhaps the white smoke from the IOC next Tuesday will again the surprise the world as in Rome last March.