Thomas Bach elected to succeed Jacques Rogge as IOC president

• German wins vote in Buenos Aires
• Rogge steps down after 12 years in charge

The German Thomas Bach has been elected as the International Olympic Committee president, making him one of the most powerful figures in world sport and global affairs.

Bach had long coveted the presidency, which is awarded for an initial eight-year term, and ran a sophisticated lobbying campaign in which the Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad al-Sabah played a controversial role.

Bach, a 59-year-old former Adidas executive, who joined the IOC in 1991 and has held a number of influential roles, will replace Jacques Rogge to become the organisation's ninth president in its 119-year history.

Rogge unveiled his successor to a standing ovation from the 102 members present at the IOC's session here that had already decided Tokyo should host the 2020 Games and wrestling should retain its Olympic status.

"This makes me happy. I want to lead the IOC according to my motto – unity in diversity. I want to be a president for all," said Bach.

"I will do my very best to balance well all the needs of the stakeholders of the Olympic movement. You should know my doors, my ears and my heart are always open to you."

Rogge, considered to have restored the credibility and financial strength of the IOC after the Salt Lake City scandal, is standing down after 12 years at the helm.

Bach saw off a late effort by his five rivals – the Puerto Rican Richard Carrion, the Swiss lawyer Denis Oswald, the international boxing chief Dr Ck Wu, the Singaporean businessman Ng Ser Miang and the former pole vaulter Sergey Bubka – to work together to stop him.

Bach has promised to overhaul the bidding system for the Games and make them cheaper to host.

He inherits a financially stable IOC but will immediately face political challenges arising from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and logistical issues concerning the 2016 Rio Games.

Sheikh al-Sabah, considered an increasingly influential figure in IOC circles, admitted to lobbying on Bach's behalf in a breach of the IOC's rules.

Oswald was then ticked off by the IOC for saying he was concerned about Bach's links to the Sheikh, who is president of the Association of National Olympic Committees and whose lobbying was seen as a factor in the Tokyo and wrestling decisions.

"I want an independent candidate who is not dependant on certain alliances and who uses his position for nothing else than the good of sport," Oswald said. "The members must make their decision but some don't like the link between Bach and Kuwait."

The German's election was ultimately unaffected by a withering documentary aired in his homeland in the run-up to the vote. It accused him of cheating when he was a young fencer by using a wet glove to disable the scoring system, of paying inducements to sports stars when he was an Adidas executive and of being named in Stasi files over an influence-peddling scheme. Bach said the claimswere "nonsense". "It will not affect me because there is no substance whatsoever," he said.

He denied that the Sheikh had orchestrated his campaign and insisted he had made no promises to anyone.

"You can't win the elections for the IOC president with the support of one person alone," he said. "The IOC members are very strong personalities and you have to convince them individually. This is what I tried to do in my campaign."

Bach also said he would look again at the number of disciplines in each sport on the Olympic programme, potentially opening up space for new sports.

The new president, who won a fencing gold medal in the team foil in 1976 before entering sports marketing and politics, defeated five other candidates in the largest field ever for the role, reflecting the relative scarcity of opportunities to run for the top job and the power it wields.

Speaking before the vote, he said he saw the role as being akin to being the conductor of an orchestra.

"The role of the IOC president is being the conductor of the worldwide orchestra of the members," he said. "He is the conductor of a fascinating orchestra with the members who have so many strengths and you have to allow to play the instrument they prefer and get them in harmony."

In the lobby of the Hilton, all the various concentric circles of interested parties – international sporting federations, lobbyists, journalists and functionaries – gathered to watch the election on a big screen.

In the first round of voting, there was a tie for last place and Wu, the Association of International Boxing Associations president, was eliminated after a run-off against Ng. Bach polled 49 votes in the final round of voting, ahead of Carrion with 29, Ng with six, Oswald with five and Bubka with four.

The British IOC vice-president Sir Craig Reedie said the Olympic movement was in safe hands. "The election of Bach gives us certainty. There was a majority early in the process and I think that's good news.

"The new president won't want to be a mirror image of his predecessor. But he knows more about the organisation of the IOC and the implications for the movement than any of the other candidates, in what was a strong field."


Owen Gibson in Buenos Aires

The GuardianTramp

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