By Anthony Stavrinos

Australian
IOC member Kevan Gosper has made a stunning return to the limelight in
Olympics
politics, taking charge of the watchdog overseeing Beijing’s 2008
preparations when he leads next month’s meeting of the IOC’s Beijing
Coordination Commission.

Gosper’s elevation to the top job has come courtesy of Belgian Hein
Verbruggen’s decision to retire last month as president of the
International
Cycling Union.

That meant he had to hand in the IOC member seat he held as head of an
international federation and as a result forfeit the chairmanship of
the Beijing watchdog. The city’s Olympic leaders are reportedly
comfortable with the Commission’s temporary Aussie leadership.

Verbruggen and Gosper were also both in China last week
with IOC president Jacques Rogge, for meetings with BOCOG (Beijing Organising
Committee for the Olympic Games) executives to discuss the changes, Olympic
news publisher Around The Rings reports.

Moves
are underway to bring Verbruggen back to the IOC by February and restore him as
chair of the Beijing Commission, but until then, Gosper will be top dog.

IOC
politics haven’t always dealt Gosper a good hand. He was one of the big losers after missing out on one of two IOC vice
president positions up for grabs among four contenders in Singapore earlier this year during the IOC
session which decided on London
as host of the 2012 Games.

Peter Fray

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