Frenchman Georges Guelzec and Japan's Morinari Watanabe are vying for the FIG Presidency ©FIG

European Gymnastics Federation (UEG) head Georges Guelzec and Japanese Gymnastics Association (JGA) secretary general Morinari Watanabe have been confirmed as the two candidates in the running to succeed Bruno Grandi as President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).

Those interested in succeeding the Italian had until midnight on Tuesday (May 17) to put themselves forward.

Guelzec and Watanabe had both declared their interest long before the deadline and no-one else has entered the race, leaving a two-way battle for the top job at the organisation.

The FIG’s members are due to elect their new President at the Congress in Tokyo from October 18 to 20.

Guelzec, the Frenchman who has led the UEG since 2009, had made no secret of his intention to stand and exclusively told insidethegames during last year’s Artistic Gymnastics World Championships in Glasgow that Watanabe would join him on the start line as he had been campaigning for a “year-and-a-half”.

The Japanese, credited with the rapid development of the sport in the nation, with the country having won gymnastics medals at every Olympics since his appointment, originally refused to confirm his interest in the FIG Presidency.

He formally announced his candidature, which has the full backing of the JGA, last month.

Watanabe has kept his cards close to his chest so far and has not revealed any details of the changes he plans to implement should he be elected, while Guelzec is keen to have all five gymnastics disciplines on the Olympic programme by the 2028 Games.

Currently, only rhythmic, artistic and trampoline competitions are staged at the Olympics.

The first steps towards getting aerobic and acrobatic events onto the programme were taken at the inaugural European Games in Baku, where all five disciplines were showcased simultaneously for the first time in the sport’s history.

Bruno Grandi will step down this year after 20 years as President of FIG ©UEG
Bruno Grandi will step down this year after 20 years as President of FIG ©UEG

The successful applicant will become just the ninth President of the world governing body since it was established back in 1881 and will herald a new era for the organisation.

Grandi will step down at the Congress after 20 years at the helm having taken over the role in 1996 after succeeding Russia's nine-time Olympic medallist Yuri Titov at the Congress in Atlanta.

Titov had led FIG for 20 years having himself replaced Switzerland's Arthur Gander, who was President for 10 years.

Grandi revealed at last year’s FIG Congress in Tashkent in Uzbekistan that he would retire in 2016, with his reign at the head of world gymnastics due to officially come to an end in December.

Since his election, the 82-year-old has overseen several key changes to the sport, including gymnastics’ elevation to the top-tier of the Olympic Games.

He also opted to scrap the perfect 10 score following controversy at Athens 2004 - a change he has admitted still angers people to this day.

The alteration to the scoring system, introduced in 2006, means it is no longer possible for a gymnast to achieve a perfect 10, a mark that elevated Romanian Nadia Comăneci to legendary status after she managed the feat at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.