Marius Vizer has resigned as president of SportAccord following weeks of turmoil in the organization that led more than 20 international federations to resign or suspend their membership. In a letter of resignation posted on SportAccord’s website, Vizer, who had launched a scathing criticism of the International Olympic Committee at SportAccord’s annual convention in April, said he was resigning “with honor and for the honor of sport.” Vizer, who is also president of the International Judo Federation, said he would also resign his role on the IOC’s Coordination Committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“When I emigrated from communism in 1988, I risked my life and my family’s life in order to live in a free and democratic world, where one of the supreme values is the freedom of speech and of opinion,” Vizer wrote in his resignation letter. “In this past month it was proven that in the free world there are, still, higher structures where the supreme value is silence!”
SportAccord is an organization whose members include the international federations of winter and summer sports. Since 2003, the group has held an annual convention designed to be a gathering place for those federations of Olympic and Olympic-recognized sports. Vizer had been president for two years and was at odds with the IOC from the start, calling for the creation of more international sporting events, including an Olympics-style event he proposed to take place every four years as a potential competitor to the Olympic Games. At SportAccord’s annual meeting in April, Vizer challenged recent reforms made by the IOC, saying they did not go far enough and calling the IOC “expired, outdated, wrong, unfair and not all transparent.” He also proposed his own series of reforms including adding prize money for athletes and having international federations share 50 percent of the revenue from a proposed new Olympics television network.
Following the comments—made with IOC President Thomas Bach in attendance—sports federations as well as the International Paralympic Committee began withdrawing or suspending their memberships in SportAccord. In addition, Lima, Peru, last week pulled out as host of the 2017 Combat Games, a SportAccord-organized event that was to have taken place in the South American country.
In his resignation, Vizer suggested the city had been pressured to remove its bid. “I did try to collaborate with the IOC in the two years of my mandate, submitting them numerous proposals for collaboration between the two organizations, but these were always rejected without any plausible explanation,” he wrote. “My door has always been open for collaboration, theirs was always closed. The cancellation of the Combat Games of Lima that was meant to bring substantial benefits to sport and participating athletes confirms the pressure that was exerted on sports and the organizers of sport events.”