Japan's Morinari Watanabe was elected the president of the International Gymnastics Federation on Wednesday in Tokyo, succeeding Italy's Bruno Grandi, who is retiring from his post after 20 years.
Japan's Morinari Watanabe was elected the president of the International Gymnastics Federation on Wednesday, succeeding Italy's Bruno Grandi, who is retiring from his post after 20 years.
Watanabe, elected at the 81st FIG Congress in Tokyo, is the ninth president in the history of the federation. He is the first non-European to lead the governing body for the sport.
Watanabe defeated France's Georges Guelzec, president of the European Union of Gymnastics, earning 100 votes to 19 for Guelzec.
"I'd like to thank the people who believed in me and voted for me," Watanabe said in his acceptance speech. "I am proud to have become president. The time to bring innovation to gymnastics has come. Gymnastics will be the king of sports."
Watanabe, 57, has been the secretary general of the Japan Gymnastics Association since 2010, and was elected to the FIG Executive Committee four years ago. An international businessman, he attended university in Sofia and is fluent in Bulgarian. He ran on a platform of increasing the popularity of the sport of gymnastics around the world. His technical proposals include establishing an official coaches' committee at the FIG, similar to the committee of athletes' representatives.
Watanabe's election makes him the only Japanese president of the governing body for an Olympic sport.
"I hope he will make efforts for the growth of world gymnastics and the Olympic movement, advance internationalization and enhance the presence of the Japanese sports community," said Japanese Olympic Committee president Tsunekazu Takeda said.
Watanabe's election caps off a thrilling 2016 for Japanese gymnastics. In August, the Japanese men won the Olympic team title in Rio de Janeiro, where Kohei Uchimura defended his all-around title. The 2020 Olympic Games will be in Tokyo.
Italy's Donatella Sacchi, who ran unopposed, was elected president of the Women's Technical Committee, succeeding Belarusian Nelli Kim, who was first elected in 2004. Kim was elected vice president of the FIG along with China's Luo Chaoyi (China) and Vasily Titov (Russia).
American Steve Butcher, who also ran unopposed, was re-elected president of the Men's Technical Committee. Russia's Natalia Kuzmina (Rhythmic Technical Committee) and Horst Kunze (Trampoline Technical Committee) were also re-elected as committee presidents.
Ali Al Hitmi (Qatar), Youssef Altabbaa (Syria), Jesus Carballo (Spain), Ron Galimore (United States), Kim Dong Min (Korea), Jani Tanskanen (Finland) and Martin Reddin (Great Britain) were elected to the FIG Executive Committee.
Holger Albrecht (Germany), Julio Marcos (Spain), Arturs Mickevics (Latvia) and Hiroyuki Tomita (Japan) were re-elected to the Men's Technical Committee. Jeff Thomson (Canada) and Andrew Tombs (Great Britain) were elected as new members, while Huang Liping (China) and Han Yoon Soo (Korea) were not re-elected.
Four members of the Women's Technical Committee were re-elected: Lyubov Burda Andrianova (Russia), Kym Dowdell (Australia), Naomi Valenzo (Mexico), and Zhou Qiurui. Canada's Yelena Davydova and Syria's Radie Zinal were elected as new members. Austria's Johanna Gratt and American Tatiana Perskaia came up short in their bids to make the committee.
External Link: 2016 FIG Election Results
Presidents of the International Gymnastics Federation
|1||1881||Liège||Nicolas J. Cupérus|| Belgium
|2||1924||Paris||Charles Cazalet|| France
|3||1933||Lausanne||Adam Zamoyski|| Poland
|4||1946||Geneva||Félix Goblet d'Alviella|| Belgium
|5||1956||Vienna||Charles Thoeni|| Switzerland
|6||1966||Dortmund||Arthur Gander|| Switzerland
|7||1976||Montreal||Yuri Titov|| Soviet Union
|8||1996||Atlanta||Bruno Grandi|| Italy
|9||2016||Tokyo||Morinari Watanabe|| Japan