IOC president Bach reminds global sports leaders to be transparent and credible

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach during an interview on July 30, 2015.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach during an interview on July 30, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - With world football's governing body Fifa embroiled in a corruption scandal, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent a sobering reminder to global sports leaders on Thursday about their responsibilities.

In a clear reference to the Fifa scandal, IOC president Thomas Bach devoted part of his opening speech at the 128th IOC Congress in Kuala Lumpur to the importance of transparency and credibility.

"These are difficult times in sport, as recent events in other sport organisations have all too clearly shown," he told the delegates. "We live in a world that takes less for granted. People today demand more transparency and want to see concrete steps and results on how we are living up to our values and our responsibility.

"We need to demonstrate that we are indeed walking the walk and not just talking the talk."

Fifa was thrown into turmoil earlier this year when more than a dozen officials and sports marketing executives were indicted by the United States on bribery, money laundering and wire fraud charges.

The IOC was forced to confront its own corruption scandal in 1998 when allegations emerged that some members had accepted bribes in return for voting for Salt Lake City to be awarded the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Ten members were either expelled or left the organisation. The IOC later introduced a range of strict reforms over the bidding process and transparency in the organisation.

"We know from our own history how long it takes to rebuild credibility and that implementing best practices with regards to good governance and transparency cannot happen overnight," Bach told the Congress. "The IOC has already undertaken major efforts 15 years ago to strengthen good governance and transparency. Putting these changes like term limits, age limit and others in place has not been an easy process. But today we see very clearly just how vital these reforms have been for our organisation."

Bach has also announced that the IOC will publish all its financial details, showing where all its revenues come from and are distributed. It will separate its audit and finance commissions and appoint a chief ethics officer.