PYEONGCHANG: IOC board member Gian Franco Kasper apologized Thursday for comparing a ban on Russia from the 2018 Olympics to persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.
"It was an inappropriate and insensitive comment," Kasper, the long-time International Ski Federation president, said in a statement.
The 73-year-old Swiss official had been speaking on the sidelines of an IOC board meeting in 2018 host city Pyeongchang. Kasper compared a potential Olympic ban for Russia — as punishment for state-backed doping and cheating at the 2014 Sochi Games — with indiscriminate persecution by the Nazis.
"I apologize unreservedly for any offence I have caused. I am truly sorry," Kasper said in the statement released by the IOC.
The IOC has set up two commissions to verify evidence — detailed in investigations appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency — of Russia's doping program before deciding on the country's Olympic participation.
Last July, the IOC board declined to impose a blanket ban on Russian teams and athletes competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. Instead, the decision was left with the sports federations in a chaotic two weeks of legal debate and hearings before the games.
Kasper was not a board member at the time. He has since been promoted to represent winter sports on the IOC's policy-making committee.
The two IOC commissions, investigating claims of a Russian doping conspiracy and prosecuting disciplinary cases against individual athletes, are expected to work for several more months.