Tokyo: Morinari Watanabe of Japan is elected as the next President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) today, after his landslide victory during election process at the FIG Congress in Tokyo.
Mr. Watanabe is also the current Secretary General of the Japan Gymnastics Association and an FIG Executive Committee member, will start his new assignment as the 9th President of FIG on January 1, 2017, succeeding Bruno Grandi of Italy, who was the President for the last two decades.
Mr. Watanabe, 57, got 100 votes from the member federations against 19 votes of his nearest rival candidate at the Congress of the oldest Olympic sports federation, founded in 1881.
Thanking the member federations who voted for him, Mr. Watanabe said, in his acceptance speech, “Thank you very much for trusting me and believing in me. I am honored to accept the position of the FIG President that was given to me by you.”
Speaking on the legacy of his predecessor, he said, “President Grandi kept challenging for 20 years. I deeply respect President Grandi. The result of this election proves that President Grandi was right in what he challenged.”
And talking about the innovation that the sport requires, he furthered his statement, “The time has come now for innovation in Gymnastics. Today we sent a strong message to the world. Our Gymnastics is not a sport that is popular only at the Olympic Games. Gymnastics is now and will be the king of sports.”
The Japanese is a sports business management professional who had joined the Japanese Gymnastics Association in 2001 with the mission of leading a “Revival of Japanese Gymnastics” following medal-less performances at the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. And since then, there haven’t been even a single Olympics without a medal to Japanese Gymnasts.
Apart from the President, three Vice Presidents were also chosen by the Congress, Vasily Titov of Russia was re-elected for one of these while the two other posts went to five-time Olympic champion Nellie Kim of Belarus and Luo Chaoyi of China. Other election activities included election of seven Executive Committee Members viz. Ali Al Hitmi of Qatar Gymnastics Federation, Jesus Carballo Martinez of Spain, Ron Galimore of USA, Youssef Altabbaa of Syria, Jani Tanskanen of Finland, Martin Reddin of England, and Kim Dong Min of Korea.
Apart from these, FIG Congress also elected technical committee Presidents and members as a part of the process.