President Jacques Rogge announces Thomas Bach’s (right) election as his successor in Buenos Aires. (AFP Photo)
Thomas Bach was elected president of the International Olympic Committee on Tuesday, keeping the powerful sports body in European hands.
Bach, a 59-year-old German lawyer, succeeds Jacques Rogge, the Belgian who is stepping down after 12 years as head of the Olympic body.
Bach, the long-time favorite, defeated five rival candidates in the secret balloting. He received 49 votes in the second round to secure a winning majority. Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico finished second with 29 votes.
Bach received a standing ovation for nearly a full minute after Rogge opened a sealed envelope to announce his victory. Bach bowed slightly to the delegates to acknowledge the warm response and thanked the members in several different languages.
"This is a really overwhelming sign of trust and confidence," Bach said.
A former Olympic fencing gold medalist who heads Germany's national Olympic committee, Bach becomes the ninth president in the 119-year history of the IOC. He is the eighth European to hold the presidency.
Of the IOC's leaders, all have come from Europe except for Avery Brundage, the American who ran the committee from 1952-72.
Bach is also the first gold medal-winning Olympic athlete to become IOC president. He won gold in team fencing for West Germany in 1976.
"I know of the great responsibility of an IOC president," Bach said. "This makes me humble. I want to lead the IOC according to my motto, ‘Unity and Diversity.
"I want to be a president for all of you. This means I will do my very best to balance well all the different interests of the stakeholders of the Olympic movement. This is why I want to listen to you and to enter in an ongoing dialogue with all of you. You should know that my door, my ears and my heart are always open for you."