The Kingmaker

OCA (Olympic Council of Asia) and ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees) president Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait reveals his life influences and aspirations within the inner circles of the Olympic Movement.

I can fill the role of co-ordinator. I first came into the Olympic Movement the same way many others did – as an athlete. I represented my country in shooting, and then became influential on the business side as president of the Kuwaiti national Olympic committee and football association, the OCA and ANOC.

I feel I’ve reached a trust level with my colleagues. I think this is because I have spent a long time in sports federations, and because I’m good at communicating with other members of the IOC (International Olympic Committee). This is maybe why the new generation of leadership within the Olympic Movement is very close. We have prepared a very nice environment for the upcoming changes in the Olympic Movement.

I don’t expect to achieve anything personally from co-ordinating. I am not interested in any particular position, I just want to see the value of the Olympic Movement secured. I also want to see the Olympic Movement change and develop for future generations. We can’t maintain the same position, otherwise we will lose our focus on being a Movement.

Kingmaker? I’m just one IOC member with one vote. I wasn’t called a kingmaker by the Olympic Movement – that came from the media. I have to respect the media’s opinion, but their opinion is not always right. I truly believe the media will soon speculate about another ‘Kingmaker’ who will come after me. When Thomas Bach was campaigning [to be IOC president], the media was very active – as is normal – and rumours were boiling [about me being a kingmaker]. But now Bach has been elected, I think all the speculation about me has finished.

The media will soon speculate about another ‘Kingmaker’ who will come after me

I know what type of people should be running the IOC house. When I saw Bach at the time of the IOC presidential elections, I thought I was choosing the right leadership for the organisation. Bach and [SportAccord president Marius] Vizer are the senior generation that has to take over now. I’ve been in the IOC for over 20 years, so I know the right people.

I’ve been asked whether I’ll run for IOC presidency for many years. I am not even running to become a member of the IOC executive board, so how can I run for presidency? I had my right to be on the IOC executive board, but gave it to my senior vice-president [of ANOC, Patrick Hickey]. Let me first think about getting on the board, then if I am there, maybe I guess that could be something.

I trust the leadership of the football family. I was the president of the Kuwait Football Association for 14 years [from 1990-2004], and I have good relations with FIFA president Sepp Blatter, [UEFA president] Michel Platini and leaders from other continents. Now, however, I think I am a little bit too far from the daily operations of football [to have an executive role at FIFA] and, because of that, I am a good friend and supporter of those who are involved.

Sepp Blatter will be FIFA president as long as Michel Platini does not run. Blatter has a very big chance [of winning re-election as FIFA president in June 2015] and I think the general assembly will make the right choice. Only those two gentlemen have the potential.

Thomas Bach has brought a lot of ideas onto the table. People usually talk about changes happening behind closed doors and not openly, but President Bach and the IOC executive board, for the first time, are discussing changes. As IOC members we have also thought openly about how we will change many aspects of our Movement for the modern world.

I hope there is enough time for Bach’s dreams to become reality. He has proposed a lot of changes, to the sports programme, age limits, procedures of bidding cities and the fight against illegal betting. It’s the first time, in my experience, that changes have been put on the table like this. I saw how people were participating at the Sochi IOC session [in February] and how keen they were to see change. This time it will happen – I can feel it.

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