British former Olympic alpine skier Sarah Lewis, who is bidding to become the fifth and first female president of the International Ski Federation (FIS), praised Turkey's "huge potential" for winter tourism and hosting the Winter Olympics in the future.
"The Turkey Ski Federation is a tremendous organization. They have really evolved their activities. They recognize that they have fantastic opportunities in the country. With 60% of the country above 2,000 meters, there is plenty of snow during the winter season and therefore a huge potential to develop winter tourism too," Lewis told Anadolu Agency in a Zoom interview ---ahead of a meeting with Turkish Ski Federation President Ali Oto on Monday.
"I am very much looking forward to meeting with the president of the Turkish Ski Federation. Ali Oto is doing tremendous work, not only in Turkey but also in the Balkan region," she said.
About her candidacy, which could result in her becoming the first female president of the FIS, Lewis said: "It is exciting. It is a great opportunity. Skiing is a diverse sport. Athletes are well represented in both genders and all disciplines, and that's not the case in the leadership, with no elected female representative. So it is very important that our whole community is represented when it comes to leadership as well, and not just in the field of play."
"l have the necessary skills, qualities and experience to be able to fulfill the role as well as strong relations with all the national associations and throughout the Olympic movement and the International Olympic Committee. So l really think l am the candidate that can best represent everyone's interests from traditional and developing nations, including representing women within the organization, who make up nearly half of the athletes," she added.
She also said she would not take a presidential salary.
"l feel the role of president is to serve the organization. Therefore, that is the pledge l am making."
On climate change, she said: "Climate change cannot be ignored. It is a reality. Within winter sports, the requirement of snow is absolutely imperative. Addressing sustainability and striving to become climate neutral is clear."
Regarding the ongoing pandemic, Lewis said: "We are in the middle of a global pandemic, and this has lasted for more than a year now. The situation will not be any different after the election on June 4 [for the FIS presidency]. Therefore, we need to be able to address the measures urgently."
"The national associations, organizers, athletes and everyone in our community have been affected by the pandemic, and l will introduce a COVID Recovery Fund to help them deal with the different challenges, the situation, the circumstances of everybody, and how this can be best supported," she added.
Whether Turkey would host the Winter Olympics in the future, she said, "absolutely -- this is a reality through building up more experience at the highest level in all 15 Olympic disciplines."
Turkey's Erzurum was among the bidding cities for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games, which will be hosted in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Last week, Sarah Lewis announced her candidacy for being the FIS president and published her manifesto, the FIS Piste Map, on her website www.sarah-lewis.com.
If elected, she would be the fifth and first female president in the 97-year history of the FIS.
The former Alpine skier had been with the FIS for 20 years until October 2020.
The election will be held on June 4 as current president Gian-Franco Kasper will step down after 23 years in the position.
The other three candidates are the Swedish Olympic Committee President and Vice President of the FIS Council Mats Arjes, Swiss Ski Federation President Urs Lehmann and businessman Johan Eliasch.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.