Chaos at AIPS Congress over voting

Proceedings at the 72nd annual congress of AIPS, the international sports press association, ground to a halt for nearly two hours today after delegates at the meeting in Milan complained about the voting procedures for the vacant vice-president places and for eight places on the executive committee.

The delay was over complications in the computerised voting which had been introduced in Marrakech at the 2005 AIPS Congress.

Today, after an initial vote on the five vice-president places, there was unrest among the delegates from national sports journalism organisations attending the Congress at the Marriott Hotel in Milan. The procedures had to be explained to the 100-plus voting delegates by a legal adviser with experience of working with the International Olympic Committee, who assured the meeting that nothing irregular had taken place.

This failed to placate everyone and the row rumbled on with many delegates trying to clarify what was happening. The Italian, Gianni Merlo, who was returned unopposed for a second four-year term as AIPS President, offered delegates a fresh vote on Saturday morning, but 75 per cent of delegates voted to continue today.

After more than two hours of discussion around the conference chamber, Charles Camenzuli, the former secretary of AIPS, took over the meeting to announce that the voting would follow the Marrakech 2005 pattern, and the business was soon completed. A fresh vote on the vice presidents produced the same result as the original one.

As well as Merlo, also re-elected were first vice president Esat Yilmaer (of Turkey) and treasurer, Jorge Ribeiro (from Portugal).

The five vice presidents elected were Laima Janusonyte (Lithuania), Konstantinos Vernikos (Greece), Faisal Al Qanai (Kuwait), Nickolai Dolgopolov (Russia) and Manouchehr Zandi (Iran).

In the election of the AIPS executive commitee, the following were elected: Mohammad Al Malki (Qatar), Emanuel Fantaneanu (Romania), Zhang Haifeng (China), Evelyn Watta (Kenya), Adolf Ingi Erlingsson (Iceland), Mitchel Obi (Nigeria), Dezso Dobor (Hungary) and Raul Garcia Salguero (Mexico).

Barry Newcombe, chairman of the SJA, who stood for election to the executive committee, finished 12th in the voting.

Discussions about the re-launched of the AIPS’s various specialist sports commissions, which had been expected to take place today, was omitted from the formal Congress agenda. Because of the delays over voting, it was decided to defer commission debate until Saturday.

According to AIPS, its Congress is being attended by more than 350 sports journalists from 110 nations.

“The food and accommodation is excellent,” said one delegate.

One of the key presentations of today’s programme was made by Lord Coe, the chairman of London 2012, who gave delegates a view of Olympics developments.

Coe was asked if he had any worries. “The only which is worrying me is Chelsea’s Champions’ League match against Barcelona next Wednesday,” he said.

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