President Gian Franco Kasper has confirmed the suspension of the AIOWF's membership with SportAccord ©Getty Images

The Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF) and Association of International Olympic Committee (IOC) Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF) have suspended their memberships with SportAccord.

Gian Franco Kasper and Raffaele Chiulli, the Presidents of ASOIF and ARISF respectively, are Vizer's two closest lieutenants at SportAccord, serving as the senior vice-president and vice-president respectively. 

Kasper confirmed his body's decision in a letter addressed directly to SportAccord counterpart Marius Vizer and seen by insidethegames

Copied into the letter along with AIOWF members is IOC President Thomas Bach, as well as Francesco Ricci Bitti, President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Sports Federations (ASOIF), and Chiulli, who has also sent a letter to Vizer confirming his body's decision "to provisionally suspend any further activities" with SportAccord. 

Kasper's letter, however, is notably more conciliatory than other letters sent to Vizer recently. 

"We remain confident that in the near future a constructive dialogue between SportAccord and its stakeholders in the interests of the Olympic Movement can be achieved," it reads. 

The move follows that of the ASOIF which disassociated its affiliation with SportAccord in the immediate aftermath of Vizer’s explosive attack on the IOC and Bach at last month’s SportAccord Convention in Sochi.

Vizer alleged the IOC "lacked transparency", that its Agenda 2020 reform process had brought "hardly any benefit" to sport and that it had unfairly blocked SportAccord in its drive to organise new Commissions and events.

Every Summer Olympic sport body except for the Vizer-led International Judo Federation signed a letter supporting the decision of the ASOIF, while both the International Paralympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games Federation have made a similar move.

The AIOWF opted for less drastic action at the time, merely expressing its “disagreement” with “the occasion and manner in which the opinions of the SportAccord President were expressed” and calling for “constructive dialogue between SportAccord and all stakeholders in the interests of the Olympic Movement”.

But following the withdrawals of 22 Olympic sports and four non-Olympic sports, it has now joined the exodus.

Athletics, shooting, archery, canoeing, boxing, hockey, taekwondo, wrestling, bobsleigh, triathlon, weightlifting, rowing, modern pentathlon, volleyball, equestrian, curling, table tennis, rugby, fencing, cycling, basketball and badminton make up the Olympic sports, while karate, korfball, orienteering and motor racing comprise the non-Olympic quartet. 

Gian Franco Kasper's letter to Marius Vizer
Gian Franco Kasper's letter to Marius Vizer ©ITG

Chiulli confirmed the ARISF addressed the "escalating situation" fuelled by Vizer's statements at an Extraordinary Session of its Council.

"In the meeting, the ARISF Council expressed its growing concern and disappointment with the SportAccord President’s lack of prior consultation with the SportAccord Council in issuing such statements," read his letter, which has also been seen by insidethegames

"Furthermore, it was gravely noted that no such consultation took place with the ARISF Council.

"For these reasons the ARISF Council requests that an urgent meeting of the SportAccord Council be convened in order to address the deteriorating relations between SportAccord and the International Olympic Committee.

"Until such an open and consensus-building process is established and a solution is found, the ARISF Council has decided to provisionally suspend any further activities between ARISF and SportAccord."

Chiulli also said ARISF "was pleased to participate in, and contribute towards the key elements of Agenda 2020, which it strongly supports" and "is fully committed to contributing towards effective and constructive dialogue to promote unity and find reasonable, positive and respectful solutions in the interests of the entire international sporting community".

Raffaele Chiulli's letter to Marius Vizer
Raffaele Chiulli's letter to Marius Vizer ©ITG

Bach is set to consult with key stakeholders before deciding whether to accept an invitation made by Vizer to hold a summit on the crisis.

Both Bach and Ricci Bitti have been invited to stage talks for "positive discussions which will lead to tangible solutions".

Last week, Vizer published a 20-point agenda, which has been communicated to Bach, Ricci Bitti and the Presidents of all Federations, and covers a wide range of issues.

As well as proposing the introduction of prize money for Olympic athletes, Vizer has also called for 50 per cent ownership of the Olympic TV Channel by all International Federations, as well as “complete transparency regarding consultants, wages and contracts”.

But in a letter, seen by insidethegames, Ricci Bitti urged Vizer to stop speaking on behalf of International Federations, claiming they “do not feel represented” by the union he heads.

Another letter was sent on Monday (May 25), seen by insidethegames, by the Alliance of Independent Members of SportAccord (AIMS) President, Stephan Fox and sent to Vizer, Bach, Ricci Bitti and other stakeholders.

After outlining how the AIMS needs both the IOC and SportAccord, it urges all sports leaders to "sit together, regardless of the circumstances, to create a dialogue so that our common goals may continue to prevail".

insidethegames have asked SportAccord for a comment on the withdrawals of the AIOWF and ARISF, but have not received a response as of yet. 

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