Ski chief plays down Olympics in 'dictatorships are easier' comments

Kasper insisted his comments to Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger “were not meant to be taken literally”.

International Ski Federation President Gian Franco Kasper's comments on hosting the Winter Olympics came under scrutiny.   -  Getty Images

International ski chief Gian Franco Kasper has played down comments he made suggesting that “everything is easier in dictatorships” in reference to the awarding of the 2022 Winter Olympics to China.

Kasper insisted his comments to Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger “were not meant to be taken literally”.

“Dictators can organise events such as this without asking the people's permission,” the paper had quoted the 75-year-old honorary International Olympic Committee member as saying.

“For us, everything is easier in dictatorships,” the International Ski Federation (FIS) president asserted.

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Beijing, host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, beat Almaty in Kazakhstan for the right to host the 2022 edition, the first Winter Games to be held in China.

In a statement released by FIS on Thursday, Kasper tried to play down his controversial comments.

“Recently, a report surfaced in the Swiss media with several controversial comments attributed to me,” he said.

“First and foremost, I would like to apologise as these comments were not meant to be taken literally but this was not clear in the final story.

“I take full responsibility for this misunderstanding and am sorry it has taken attention away from our athletes competing in the FIS World Championships.”