(Reuters) - Rugby joined equestrian, curling and table tennis in cutting ties with SportAccord on Thursday, the latest round of walkouts after its president sharply criticized the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Some 18 Olympic federations have already withdrawn their membership of the umbrella organization, which represents about 100 Olympic and non-Olympic sports bodies, after its president Marius Vizer criticized the IOC last month.
“World Rugby president Bernard Lapasset’s motion to suspend membership until there is clarity regarding SportAccord’s function and role within the global sporting community and also a detailed review of SportAccord’s governance and management, was unanimously approved,” World Rugby said in a statement.
Earlier on Thursday, the equestrian federation issued a similarly-worded statement, announcing its own withdrawal from the organization.
The World Curling Federation (WCF) and the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) also suspended their membership, with curling officials saying Vizer’s comments did not represent their federation.
Vizer, who accused the IOC of putting pressure on federations, proposed meeting IOC president Thomas Bach to clear the air, but was told that would not happen before the IOC Executive Board had been briefed next month.
Vizer responded on Thursday with a 20-point agenda for the meeting which included discussing prize money for Olympic champions, increased revenues for international federations from the Olympics and co-ownership of the Olympic channel among others.
However, time is of the essence for Vizer as membership departures mount and pressure on the international judo president grows exponentially.
On Wednesday, the international rowing federation as well as modern pentathlon and volleyball pulled out of SportAccord.
Since Vizer’s scathing attack on the IOC, in which he claimed the Olympic body was dated, not transparent enough and blocking new initiatives, a string of federations have pulled out of his organization.
A self-styled reformer of sport when he took over the SportAccord organization two years ago, he instantly clashed with the IOC over his planned United World Championships which was seen as a potential competitor to the Olympics.
SportAccord and its annual international convention is a major showcase for mainly smaller non-Olympic sports looking for new revenue streams or greater international exposure.
The departures also include athletics, boxing, archery, triathlon, taekwondo, wrestling, shooting, canoeing, hockey, bobsleigh and weightlifting.
Several sports have also pulled out of the 2017 World Combat Games organized by SportAccord, leaving the event with just two of the initial six Olympic sports along with 10 other non-Olympic sports.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Julian Linden, Ken Ferris and Toby Davis