• Germany edition
 
German of the Week
From fencer to Olympic boss - Thomas Bach
Photo: DPA

From fencer to Olympic boss - Thomas Bach

Published: 12 Sep 2013 16:36 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Sep 2013 16:36 GMT+02:00

Hailing from Tauberbischofsheim south-west Germany, Bach was selected ahead of five other candidates to become the IOC´s ninth president. A favourite throughout the campaign, he has been on the cards to replace outgoing president Jacques Rogge for years.

As vice-president of the commission since the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the 59-year-old will now be in charge of organising the summer and winter games for the next eight years – a period which will include Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

His first task will be to oversee the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi - a baptism of fire given the political controversy surrounding Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law.

Bach is well known in Germany for his gold-medal fencing triumph at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. In the same year he also won gold at the World Fencing Championships and defended his title a year later.

His career as a solicitor is equally impressive. Having studied law and politics at Würzburg University in the 1970s, he started a legal firm in his home town in 1983 and became director of international relations at Adidas just two years later.

Despite his impressive CV, Bach is not immune to controversy. It was once alleged that he has used his contacts within the IOC to further his career as a lawyer.

In April 2008, it came to light that Bach had held a consultancy role at Siemens since 2000. Der Spiegel news magazine reported that his contract was worth around €200,000 and that he had used his IOC connections to secure investment from Kuwait for a Siemens project.

In August this year, Bach also found himself embroiled in the West Germany doping scandal. A report by Berlin’s Humboldt University alleged that the West German government – like their East German neighbours - had sponsored doping in sports during the Cold War.

Bach, who appointed a former judge to analyse the report, played down the allegations and claimed that government compliance in doping had been exaggerated. He also suggested that the study revealed almost nothing new.

Since he was a child, Bach has had a reputation for being a bit of a rebel and at school he organised protests.

In 1980 he angered former chancellor Helmut Schmidt by opposing Germany’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics. The boycott was initiated by the US in protest against the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan.

"In 1980 I was the spokesman for all the West German athletes and fought really hard for us to be able to compete in Moscow," he said.

The dismissive way in which politicians at the time treated athletes’ opposition to the boycott prompted Bach to become involved in sporting politics. "This for me was the turning point from being an athlete to entering sports politics," he said.

If it wasn’t for this Bach may have continued as a lawyer after he retired from fencing. Instead, he is now finds himself in the hot seat of world sport.

The Local/AFP/fs

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling
Italy's National Partisans' Association welcomed the court decision. Photo: DPA

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling

Italy's constitutional court has ruled that victims of Nazi-era war crimes can sue Germany in Italian courts, rejecting a UN ruling and provoking a strong reaction from Berlin on Friday. READ  

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Kurds watching the attack on Kobane. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier challenges UN over Isis gas reports

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pressed UN General Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to bring possible poison gas use by Isis in Iraq before the Security Council. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,525
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd