Portraying himself as a “global” candidate with a world view, Ng Ser Miang of Singapore is hoping to break the European stranglehold on the top Olympic job.
The 64-year-old diplomat and businessman entered the IOC presidential race Thursday, pitching his credentials as a consensus-builder who can lead the Olympics through challenging times and bring more young people into the fold.
“I am proud to be Asian, but I’m also global,” Ng told The Associated Press in an interview. “To lead a world organization, it is necessary to have a world view. Being from Asia is also advantageous because I would bring to the table a different perspective.”
Ng would be the first International Olympic Committee president from Asia, a continent with growing economic, political and sporting influence. All but one of the IOC’s eight presidents since 1894 have come from Europe, with Avery Brundage of the United States the only exception.
“Asia has more than half the world’s population and is a fast-growing developing continent,” Ng said. “We talk about universality. It’s necessary to look at universality at all levels. The president has to be universal and global.”
Ng spoke to the AP before his formal announcement at the highly-symbolic venue of the Sorbonne university in Paris, the “historic, sacred place” where the IOC and modern Olympic movement were founded in 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin.
“The world is changing and the movement must change with it,” Ng said. “I believe that we can do more and that we must do more.”
Ng, the IOC’s highest-ranking vice president, became the second official candidate to succeed Jacques Rogge, who steps down in September after 12 years at the helm.
Germany’s Thomas Bach, another vice president, was the first to announce his candidacy last week in Frankfurt. Bach has been viewed as the front-runner, partly because of the European-dominated nature of the IOC.
At least three other members 〞 Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico, C.K. Wu of Taiwan and Sergei Bubka of Ukraine 〞 are expected to announce their presidential bids soon. Swiss member Dennis Oswald is also weighing a possible bid. The deadline is June 10, three months before the Sept. 10 election in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“It is good to have more good candidates whatever continent they come from,” Ng told the AP. “It’s good to have a strong competition.”
Ng, an IOC member since 1998, raised his profile when he chaired the organizing committee of the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore in 2010. The Youth Games is Rogge’s pet project, and Ng said he will put the role of young people at the heart of his campaign.
“Relatively few youth get to participate in the Olympic movement,” he said. “I want to change that. We need to place youth at the center of the Olympic movement.”
Ng has served on the IOC’s policy-making executive board since 2005 and as a vice president since 2009. He was a member of the coordination commissions for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Games. He’s a former vice president of the international sailing federation.
Ng has also been Singapore’s non-resident ambassador to Norway since 2001 and served as ambassador to Hungary from 2000-2012. In business, he is chairman of Singapore’s largest supermarket chain and director of several companies.
As an ambassador, Ng said he understands European values. As an IOC member, he said, he has also worked closely with African and South American cities.
“I understand the strength of the movement lies with its diverse interests and perspectives,” he said.
Ng notified Rogge of his decision to run earlier this week and said he was sending his manifesto to all IOC members on Wednesday. Bach, by contrast, said he would wait until June to release his platform to the members.
While short on specifics, Ng did cite some priority issues.
With the world beset by economic problems, he said, the IOC must review the size and cost of the Olympics, as well as the sports program for the games.
Ng said he would “empower” IOC members to work with sports federations and governments to strengthen the movement.
“This will require a leader with an inclusive leadership style and world view based on collective input and decision making,” he said.
Rogge suggested recently that his successor should be paid, a break from IOC tradition where the presidency is a volunteer position. But, like Bach, Ng said if elected he would choose to remain a volunteer with no pay. He also said he would work fulltime from IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Ng said he supported proposals for the presidential candidates to present their manifestos to the members in person at the IOC general assembly in Lausanne in July.
“The opportunity to be heard by members would be a necessary and ideal situation,” Ng said in the interview. “It will allow members to make an informed decision.”
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