When the new executive committee of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) came into office around Thomas Weikert, an urgent task was to calm down the sporting landscape, which had been turbulent after Alfons Hörmann’s presidency. That’s nine months ago, last week the body announced that it would run again in December. But the German sports landscape is still agitated, albeit in a different way.
German sport is currently conducting a few remarkable debates, and by no means only those that world events in the form of Corona and the energy crisis are forcing on it; but also a few homemade ones, in which the actions of the new leadership are surprising.
First and foremost, this concerns the possible application for the Olympic Games in 2034 or 2036. Officially, the line is to carefully develop a plan, but the discussion sometimes has such strange blossoms, as if one wanted to conjure up an eighth failure after seven failed attempts. Just one point of many: from sports lobbyists to Uli Hoeneß, people are clearly questioning whether a majority in the population is needed at all for an Olympic bid. That would of course be a very strange way of preventing a third veto after people said no to Munich 2022 and Hamburg 2024. The DOSB should urgently make it clear that there will be a mandatory referendum in any case.
Just the athletes are demanding an end to the fixation on medals
Another topic: the state of competitive sport. For eight years, the sport has worked through an incredibly laborious process on a so-called reform that should lead to more medals. The result: more money from the Federal Ministry of the Interior, but no more sporting successes – and at the same time a lot more bureaucracy and a lot of frustration. Dirk Schimmelpfennig, the board member responsible for competitive sports, will soon have to go too, but God knows that many fathers (and a few mothers) are in this unfortunate position. Now it’s about a reform of the reform, and particularly exciting: the athletes are demanding an end to the fixation on medals and a stronger focus on social significance. A current DOSB paper, on the other hand, states that “priority” is to be given to promoting “high-potential” sports, disciplines and athletes, and the state sports associations are seconded with the idea of no longer promoting some sports at all in the future. Apparently, German sport threatens to fall into the same trap a second time.
And finally there is dealing with staff and the past. The very way in which the new CEO, Torsten Burmester, came into office generated a protest note in sport. Now all eyes are on the commission set up at the beginning of the year to review the era of ex-boss Hörmann. The composition was already irritating, because it also includes the ex-functionary Christa Thiel, under Hörmann DOSB Vice. The results should be available by the end of September, and then it will become clear how closely the Commission has looked; with the controversial ex-president, but also with other officials who are still involved in sport today. And above all, the current leadership of the DOSB is then measured by the consequences it draws from it.