Quanhai Li of China has been elected as the new President of World Sailing after defeating incumbent Kim Andersen of Denmark in a run-off.
Li’s victory, by 68 votes to 60, was announced today at the governing body’s General Assembly which was held virtually.
The run-off followed a first round contested by four candidates, with the top two progressing.
Andersen came out top in this initial phase, with 53 votes, followed by Li with 39, Spain’s Gerardo Seeliger with 21 and Scott Perry of Uruguay with 15.
Li, however, succeeded in overhauling his rival in the decisive second stage by picking up the vast majority of Seeliger and Perry’s votes.
The 58-year-old Li, director-general of the Chinese National Olympic Sports Centre, will join a select group of Chinese officials to have taken charge of a Summer Olympic International Federation.
As such, his election comes as a marquee moment for Chinese sport as it prepares to stage the next Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing in 2022.
Wei Jizhong was President of the International Volleyball Federation for four years until 2012.
Lu Shengrong was President of the Badminton World Federation from 1993 to 2001.
Xu Yinsheng was President of the International Table Tennis Federation for a time in the 1990s.
Taiwan’s Ching-kuo Wu was President of the International Boxing Association between 2006 and 2017.
Taking the floor after his victory was confirmed, Li said: “Thank you, everybody.
“I don’t know how to express my gratitude.
“Today is a special day.
“You have made new history.”
Early priorities for the former World Sailing vice-president will be to negotiate the financially-stretched governing body’s exit from an expensive lease on its London offices and to deliver new sponsorship.
In his election platform, Li stated that through his “substantial business contacts around the world” he was “very confident to be in a position to bring valuable sponsorships and support to World Sailing.”
It has been suggested by the South China Morning Post that Li has backing from Evergrande, a Chinese property developer, and that this company might offer $10 million (£7.6 million/€8.4 million) in a sponsorship deal.
This could conceivably be enough on its own to transform World Sailing’s financial position.
The following have been elected as World Sailing vice-presidents – Tomasz Chamera (Poland), Philip Baum (South Africa), Sarah Kenny (Australia), Duriye Öziem Akdurak (Turkey), Yann Rocherieux (France), Marcus Spillane (Ireland) and Cory Sertl (United States).