Alisher Usmanov will remain as the President of the International Fencing Federation (FIE) until at least November 2021 after an Elective Congress due to be held in Moscow next month was cancelled because of COVID-19, it has been reported.
Erika Aze, a member of the FIE Executive Committee, revealed to Russia’s official state news agency TASS that the Congress, due to take place on November 28, had been postponed until 2021.
"Alisher Usmanov will continue to lead the Federation until the elections take place," Aze told TASS.
In a letter sent to Member National Associations, the FIE wrote that, under Statue 3.1, "The Elective Congress is held during the Olympic year. The Olympic year can thus only be the year during which the Olympic Games are held. Further to the postponement by the IOC of the Tokyo Olympic Games from 2020 to 2021, the latter year has become the Olympic year."
The delay is unlikely to make any difference as when the Congress does take place Usmanov is expected to be re-elected unopposed for a fourth term as FIE President.
The 67-year-old Russian oligarch, whose personal fortune is estimated by Forbes to be nearly $12 billion (£9 billion/€10 billion), was first elected in 2008 when he beat the incumbent René Roch, of France, by 66 votes to 61.
He was re-elected in 2012 and 2016.
Usmanov has shown great generosity to the sport he practised throughout his time in the top job.
In 2018, for example, the FIE was able to report a surplus of CHF2.78 million (£2.3 million/$2.9 million/€2.58 million) thanks to a mammoth CHF16.34 million (£13.56 million/$17.15 million/€15.2 million) in donations from Usmanov.
The FIE’s original 2020 budget foresaw income of CHF21.4 million (£17.8 million/$22.5 million/€19.9 million).
Of this, CHF5 million (£4.15 million/$5.25 million/€4.65 million) was to be donated by Usmanov with CHF15 million (£12.5 million/$15.75 million/€14 million) set to come as a result of fencing’s place on the Olympic programme at Tokyo 2020.
With those Games postponed by a year, that CHF15 million payment will not now materialise, all else being equal, until around September 2021.
Usmanov is the latest head of a Summer Olympic International Federation to have been granted an extension to their term due to COVID-19.
Other sports to have postponed elections due this year include the International Hockey Federation, led by India’s Narinder Batra, and the International Modern Pentathlon Union, whose President is Germany’s Klaus Schormann.
The International Canoe Federation, led by Spain’s José Perurena, and the International Gymnastics Federation, whose head is Japan’s Morinari Watanabe, have also pushed their elections back until 2021.
World Sailing and the International Boxing Association, however, both plan to hold elections this year as scheduled on virtual platforms.
World Triathlon and United World Wrestling are also due to have Elective Congresses this year but have so far not announced whether they will be held remotely or postponed until next year.