Coe told to cut CSM ties if he wants IOC membership
By Jonathan Rest
Sebastian Coe, president of World Athletics, has been told he must give up his role as executive chairman of UK-based sports agency CSM Sport & Entertainment if he wishes to become a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Track and field is one of the Olympic Games biggest draws, but its international governing body has been without representation at the IOC since Coe’s election as World Athletics (then IAAF) president in 2015.
Gianni Infantino and David Haggerty, president of Fifa and the International Tennis Federation, respectively, and Yasuhiro Yamashita, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee, were today proposed as IOC members, and are expected to be confirmed at next month’s session in Lausanne.
However, IOC president Thomas Bach said Coe will have to wait.
Speaking after the two-day executive board meeting, Bach said: “We have wanted him to become an IOC member as the president of one of our most important Olympic sports since 2015. We have been in close consultation with him since then and we have addressed in all consultations the risk of a potential conflict of interest he may have. These are based on discussions with the IOC ethics commission concerning his position as executive chairman of sports consultancy company CSM.
“CSM consults a wide range of sports organisations and stakeholders of the Olympic Movement, including having contractual partnerships with the IOC itself.
“In this ongoing consultation Seb Coe, at the end of November, informed us that at this moment he would not be able to address this issue of compliance with the position of the ethics commission, but that he continues to work to resolve this issue.”
Asked later when this might be, and whether Coe could be in line for IOC membership at the July session in Tokyo, ahead of the 2020 Olympics, Bach replied: “He said he will hopefully be able to address this in the next couple of months. This will mean the door it still open for Tokyo.”
Coe’s business responsibilities have given rise to conflict of interest concerns before, with the Briton having eventually ended his long-running paid ambassadorial role with US sportswear giant Nike three months after being elected World Athletics president in August 2015.
He only broke his ties with Nike when it was alleged he lobbied for Eugene in Oregon, USA, which is close to Nike’s headquarters in Portland, to be awarded hosting rights to the 2021 IAAF World Championships. Coe has denied those allegations.
He has maintained his role at CSM, albeit did announce when he took office at World Athletics that the agency will not tender for the federation’s contracts nor work with cities bidding for its events while he is at the helm.
Ahead of his World Athletics election, Coe vociferously denied any conflicts of interest, including in his role at CSM, saying that there was “no president in or seeking office who has more transparency.”
Coe’s disgraced predecessor at World Athletics, Lamine Diack, was an IOC member, as was Sepp Blatter, the man Infantino replaced at Fifa in 2016.
The Swiss executive was considered again in 2018 but at the time Bach cited an upcoming Fifa election in 2019 for the failure to propose Infantino. With Infantino now in place at Fifa until at least 2023, his IOC membership will come at the 10 January session.
Haggerty, too, was re-elected ITF president for a second-term in September. He will take the number of US IOC members back up to three – along with Anita DeFrantz and Kikkan Randall – following the resignation of Larry Probst, when he stepped down as chairman of the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
With Tokyo 2020 on the horizon, Yamashita doubles Japan’s representation at the IOC, joining Morinari Watanabe, president of FIG, gymnastics’ governing body.
Yamashita, Japan’s former Olympic judo gold medallist and head of the Japan Judo Federation, succeeded Tsunekazu Takeda as JOC president in June. Takeda resigned as an IOC member, as well as stepping down as president of the JOC, having been implicated in a damaging investigation in France over allegations of corruption related to the bidding process for Tokyo 2020.
Elsewhere, Bach revealed today that the IOC has entered into dialogue with South Korea about staging the 2024 winter Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon Province, home to PyeongChang, host of last year’s winter games.
Bach said the IOC and South Korea are “open to taking North Korea on board for the organisation of the winter Youth Olympic Games if circumstances allow.”
It would mark the first Asian host of the winter Youth Olympics – Singapore and Nanjing have staged summer editions – with Lausanne to follow Innsbruck (2012) and Lillehammer (2016) next month.