BERLIN (Reuters) - Puerto Rican banker Richard Carrion launched his bid for the presidency of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday, with his long financial experience a powerful pitch in his quest for the world’s top sports job.
The 60-year-old Carrion, who is chairman of Puerto Rican lender Popular Inc, heads the IOC’s finance commission and is a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, becomes the third official candidate in the race to be decided on September 10.
“We have a lot at stake in this election,” Carrion, an IOC member since 1990, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“Our place in the world is not guaranteed. We must have a leader that knows how not just to manage the coming change but also make it work for the IOC and the movement,” said the soft-spoken Carrion.
IOC Vice Presidents Thomas Bach from Germany and Singapore’s Ng Ser Miang have already launched their campaigns while the head of the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) C.K. Wu is set to announce his bid on Thursday.
Several more could decide to run, with Swiss sports administrator Denis Oswald and former pole vault champion Sergei Bubka seen as likely candidates.
As head of the IOC’s finance commission since 2002, Carrion, who is also responsible for negotiating broadcasting rights for the IOC, has overseen major revenue growth over the past decade despite the global economic downturn.
He also helped to negotiate a four-Games deal to 2020 with U.S. broadcaster NBC worth $4.38 billion.
Sponsorship revenues for the IOC through its TOP program for the 2013-16 period are set to exceed $1 billion for the first time, compared with $663 million for 2001-4.
“(IOC) President (Jacques) Rogge has entrusted me with a lot of responsibility, financial and television. It was his vision that we should grow the foundation to have enough money at hand in case Games were cancelled,” said Carrion.
Broadcasting revenues, the biggest source of income for the IOC, are seen topping $4 billion until 2016, with revenues for the 2002-4 period at almost half that.
“If you look at the IOC, it has a great standing but by nature when things are going well I think about what could go wrong. This is a great standing but it is not something that is guaranteed,” said Carrion.
He said he wanted to see the IOC branching out to other organizations to become stronger.
“We cannot do everything on our own. We have tremendous resources in the work our members do. We can create associations with other organizations around the world, learn from best practices.”
In turn, Carrion said he wanted to see Olympic Games expertise brought back into the IOC as the Games became more complex.
“We developed an expertise and need to bring this core of people in-house. There are areas in staging Olympics where we would benefit if we had a core of people permanently engaged in host cities,” he said.
The IOC will elect the winning candidate at their session in Buenos Aires, with all 100-plus IOC members voting. Rogge is stepping down after his two-term presidency comes to a mandatory end.
Asked to comment on how he viewed campaigning against close colleagues for one of the most powerful sports jobs in the world that has come up only twice since 1980, Carrion said he thought there would be at least two more candidates appearing before the June 10 deadline.
“I think there will probably six candidates and this is a good thing. The more candidates, the more opportunity for members to make the decision who is the most capable person.
“Every IOC member is responsible for that legacy and I am convinced the number of candidates is a good thing. We should all have opportunity to share our ideas.”
Editing by Clare Fallon