MOSCOW — Asia’s top Olympic official was elected Friday as head of the global body of national Olympic committees, taking over after longtime chief Mario Vazquez Rana resigned amid political infighting.
Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah of Kuwait, head of the Olympic Council of Asia, was voted in as president of the Association of National Olympic Committees at the opening of its general assembly in Moscow.
Sheikh Ahmad replaces Mario Vazquez Rana, the 79-year-old Mexican media mogul who quit last month after heading ANOC for more than 30 years. ANOC represents the world’s 204 national Olympic bodies.
The Sheikh Ahmad 50-year-old, the only candidate, has led the Asian Olympic body since 1991. He sought to strike a note of unity following his election, which he won by a vote of 174 in favor, one against and two abstentions. He said of Vazquez Rana that “our relationship is more than what you are hearing.”
Sheikh Ahmad said ANOC’s priorities under his leadership will include “a vision to help the underdeveloped countries’ national Olympic committees.”
In his speech to the assembly, Putin praised the Olympic movement for promoting “the principles of honest games and mutual respect.”Amid global financial uncertainties and political tensions, these principles help make the world “more humane, more fair, more just, more open,” Putin said.
Putin, who will be inaugurated as president in May after spending four years as prime minister, has made sports a key element of his political and personal appeal in a dozen years as national leader.